Henry Darger's Orphans and the Construction of Race

July 14, 2017-January 14, 2018
Curated by Jaimy Magdalena Mann

 Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). Untitled (“In Times Like These…”), n.d. Page of coloring book, newspaper clippings, and other paper clippings on advertising cardboard, 14 x 20 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, 102.5.  © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY

Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). Untitled (“In Times Like These…”), n.d. Page of coloring book, newspaper clippings, and other paper clippings on advertising cardboard, 14 x 20 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, 102.5.  © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY

Intuit’s exhibition Henry Darger’s Orphans and the Construction of Race centers on Darger’s late collages, which include photographic reproductions of Asian “war-orphans” in Korea and Vietnam. The collages offer an anguished reflection on the complicated aftermath of war, representations of race and ethnicity, Darger’s thwarted real-life attempts to adopt a child, and his own victimization as an orphan and reveals how the United States constructed race, particularly whiteness, and childhood.

In addition to Darger’s collages incorporating Asian children, the exhibition includes personal documents about his desire to adopt, Catholic ephemera focusing on adoption, white orphans in comics, and a variety of source material from coloring books, advertisements, and newspapers depicting Asian and Native American children, and people of color. Darger’s collection of source material and his reappropriation of those images into the collages provides an understanding of society’s views on race, class, gender and commodification during the mid-20th century.

Click on the link below to listen to a WDCB 90.9 FM Radio interview with curator Jaimy Magdalena Mann:
 The Art Section "Intuit Celebrates Chicago's Very Own Outsider"

Image: Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). Untitled (“In Times Like These…”), n.d. Page of coloring book, newspaper clippings, and other paper clippings on advertising cardboard, 14 x 20 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, 102.5. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY

Special thanks to the American Folk Art Museum, New York, for its
generous loans of Henry Darger artworks and archives.


 Dapper Bruce Lafitte (American, b. 1971).  T.D.B.C. Presents Exodus , 2017. Archival ink on acid free paper, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and FIERMAN, NY

Dapper Bruce Lafitte (American, b. 1971). T.D.B.C. Presents Exodus, 2017. Archival ink on acid free paper, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and FIERMAN, NY

Opening Reception: Friday, October 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Artist Talk: 7 p.m.
On view October 12-December 17, 2017
Curated by Matt Arient

 

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art presents Dapper Bruce Lafitte: Kingpin of the Antpin, a solo exhibition of eight drawings by Dapper Bruce Lafitte, the artist formerly known as Bruce Davenport, Jr. Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, October 13. Lafitte will give a talk beginning at 7 p.m. 

From 2006-2015, Bruce Davenport, Jr., depicted “the culture,” primarily that of New Orleans: the marching bands of public and parochial schools, Mardi Gras Indians, and street scenes. In the second decade of his career, Dapper Bruce Lafitte, as he is now known, is taking on “the history”: Civil War battle scenes, the civil rights movement and, in this body of work, Hurricane Katrina. The storm that wracked New Orleans and exposed the federal government’s callous ineptitude also inspired Dapper Bruce to become an artist, and he confronts the event in some of his most personal work to date.

In drawings titled Exodus, No Love for the Poor, My First Time Seeing a M-16 and others, Dapper Bruce presents a visceral document of his experience in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Street scenes show floods of brown water, expressively drawn with marker; the Superdome is depicted as a yellow and gray monolith surrounded by stranded civilians. The crowds for which the Dapper is known are in these works fleeing rather than celebrating, confronting armed guards, and walking along the highway away from the city. Dapper Bruce’s drawings always are laden with text: remembrances to his friends and relatives who died in the storm, shout outs to dead celebrities, commentary on his art career, and blunt political criticism.

Dapper Bruce Lafitte was born and currently resides in New Orleans. A self-trained artist, he began making and showing work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to commemorate the then-decimated street culture of parades and marching bands of the city. He has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, notably in the Prospect Biennial, New Orleans, and in solo shows at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS; Vacant Gallery, Tokyo; Louis B. James Gallery, New York; and Atlanta Contemporary, curated by Daniel Fuller. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine and Victory Journal, among others. In 2009, he was a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation artist award.


Darger + War: Violence and Loss in Self-Taught Art

September 15-December 10, 2017
Curated by Alison Amick

 Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973) Untitled, n.d., Watercolor and carbon transfer on paper, 19 x 24 in. Collection of Robert A. Roth. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973) Untitled, n.d., Watercolor and carbon transfer on paper, 19 x 24 in. Collection of Robert A. Roth. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

War has impacted artists across time — from the classically trained to those who turned to art therapy to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Darger + War: Violence and Loss in Self-Taught Art explores the complex intersection of art and war through the lens of self-taught art, and investigates war as a narrative, as experience, and as a state of mind.

The world of Henry Darger (1892-1973) was fraught with war. During his lifetime, the United States fought in numerous wars: the Spanish–American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Though Darger never saw conflict or served abroad (he was drafted in 1917 and honorably discharged three months later), his artworks both anticipate and reflect the violence of warfare. Darger had a lifelong avid interest in the American Civil War, one inspiration for his 15,000-page good-versus-evil novel known as In the Realms of the Unreal, which chronicles a conflict of Darger’s making, the Glandeco-Angelinian War, in which the seven Vivian Girls are heroines in the war against child slavery.

The private nature of Darger’s “historical” war contrasts with the public nature of Dr. Charles Smith’s African American Heritage Museum & Black Veterans Archive, first created in Aurora, Illinois, and, later, in a second environment in Hammond, Louisiana. The Archives were created to memorialize African Americans who perished in Vietnam and to commemorate and educate visitors about African American history and civil rights issues. His complex, built environment—both narrative and immersive—turns toward history and shared memory as a direct result of Smith’s Vietnam War experience.

What is it about war and its aftermath that compels artists to create? Despite never having served in combat, Darger reflects the realities experienced by many touched by war. Betty Zakoian and Roy Ferdinand turned to art to remember those who had perished and to commemorate the experience of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and New Orleans street violence, respectively. Veterans Bill Crist, Richard Saholt and Gregory Van Maanen turned to image manipulation and art making as a means of processing their experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder.

This exhibition is not intended to be a comprehensive exploration of war and self-taught art but, rather, to prompt all of us to ask questions and explore the inner-connectedness of humankind.

Special thanks to the American Folk Art Museum, New York, for its
generous loans of artworks and archives.

 


Mark Francis: Sculptures from the Inside

August 3-October 8, 2017
Curated by Alison Amick and Matt Collinsworth

 Mark Francis (American, b. 1960) Prison Blues, 2011. Papier-mâché and other media. Collection of the Kentucky Folk Art Center

Mark Francis (American, b. 1960) Prison Blues, 2011. Papier-mâché and other media.
Collection of the Kentucky Folk Art Center

Over more than 25 years of incarceration (1986-2014) for a murder conviction, Marvin (Mark) Francis taught himself to create fantastical papier-mâché sculptures of dramatic scenes and visions from inside prison. Using limited materials available—including toilet paper, crushed ramen noodles, nail clippers, paper clips and, eventually, mail-order wooden dowel rods—he depicted the social, emotional and psychological impacts of his life behind bars.

Mark Francis: Sculptures from the Inside examines a range of emotions and experiences from his incarcerated time in Kentucky state penitentiaries over more than two and half decades through eight sculptures, including the centerpiece, “Prison Blues” (2011) featuring a block of six jail cells occupied by inmates in a variety of provoking and unsettling states and activities.

A victim of child abuse, Francis has expressed that art has helped his healing process, and he, therefore, donates the majority of proceeds from artwork sales to programs that help break the cycle of all types of child abuse. Today, Francis lives and works in central Tennessee.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition: Chicago Tribune"Outsider art from the inside at Intuit"

Special thanks to the Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University for its generous loans of Mark Francis artworks from its permanent collection.


Betwixt and Between: Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls

April 12-September 4, 2017
Curated by Leisa Rundquist

 Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). Untitled, mid-twentieth century. Watercolor, pencil, carbon tracing, and collage on pierced paper, 24 x 106 ½ in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase with funds generously provided by John and Margaret Robson, 2004.1.3B, Photo Credit: James Prinz © American Folk Art Museum / Art Resource NY © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). Untitled, mid-twentieth century. Watercolor, pencil, carbon tracing, and collage on pierced paper, 24 x 106 ½ in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase with funds generously provided by John and Margaret Robson, 2004.1.3B, Photo Credit: James Prinz © American Folk Art Museum / Art Resource NY © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henry Darger’s Vivian girls and the thousands of others in his make-believe world exist in contradictory states; Darger positions these little “girls” somewhere between male and female, both biologically and socially. The Vivian girls’ ambiguous gender speaks broadly, and with rich complexity, to culture’s polarizing constructions of child/adult and male/female. Darger plays with these polarities and fabricates an extraordinary “child” beyond nature—capable of defeating bloodthirsty Glandelinians.

Visually, this plucky band of seven sisters are appropriated from popular images of childhood from early to mid-20th century American coloring books, comic strips and clothing advertisements. Darger, however, complicates their seemingly cute and innocent bodies with hand-drawn additions of male anatomy—a characteristic of “girls” in Darger’s fictional world that remains unexplained.  The Vivian girls’ intersexual nature and frequent nudity is certainly one of the most significant, yet puzzling, aspects of Darger’s art.

The exhibition features major works by Henry Darger that include double-sided, panoramic drawings with watercolor and collage spanning up to eight feet long, Vivian portraits, as well as traced images and resource materials from Intuit’s archives.

Visit the following links to read coverage of this exhibition:
Artsy "The Radical Message behind Henry Darger's Transgender Child Superheroes"
DNAInfo Chicago "Rahm Declares Today 'Henry Darger Day' to Honor Lincoln Park Artist"
Flash Art "Henry Darger"
Hyperallergic "Today is Henry Darger Day in Chicago"

Hyperallergic "The Sexual Ambiguity of Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls"
Newcity "Darger Never Disappoints: A Review of Betwixt and Between: Henry Darger's Vivian Girls at Intuit"

Windy City Times "Art Event Looks at Gender Mysteries in Artist Henry Darger's Works"
Windy City Times "Panel Looks at Gender, Sexuality in Darger's Art"

Click below to read "Vivam!: The Divine Intersexuality of Henry Darger's Vivian Girl", essay by Leisa Rundquist: 
Elsewhere: The International Journal of Self-Taught and Outsider Art

Special thanks to the American Folk Art Museum, New York, for its generous loans of Henry Darger artworks and archives.


Henry Darger: Source Materials

 Collection of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Henry Darger Room Collection, HDRC80a

Collection of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Henry Darger Room Collection, HDRC80a

March 2-July 23, 2017
Curated by Alison Amick


Henry Darger was a native Chicagoan who spent part of his youth consigned to an "Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children" in Lincoln, Ill. As a young adult, he returned to Chicago, where he got a job as a janitor and lived a mostly-reclusive life in a one-room apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Upon his death, Darger's landlords discovered something incredible: a striking 15,000-page graphic novel entitled In the Realms of the Unreal. The story chronicles the seven Vivian Girls, who lead a bloody rebellion against the child slavery of the evil Glandolinean Army. In spring 2000, Intuit took possession of the contents of Darger’s living and working space, which was installed as a permanent exhibition in 2008. Intuit’s Henry Darger Room Collection includes tracings, clippings from newspapers, magazines, comic books, cartoons, children’s books, personal documents, and architectural elements, fixtures, and furnishings from Darger’s original room. 

In 2017, Intuit celebrates the 125th anniversary of Henry Darger’s birth with Chicago’s Henry Darger, a yearlong series of exhibitions and programming. From its extensive collection of Darger’s source materials, Intuit has selected examples to highlight, some of which are on permanent view as part of the Henry Darger Room Collection. The use of source materials was central to Darger’s process. He carefully selected and traced images (from sources such as the coloring book pages on view)and reconfigured them to create new compositions: horns from a ram appear on his fantastical blengins, while images of young girls playing and engaging in daily activities become inspiration for the Vivian Girls and children in his narratives. The imaginative world of Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, Darger’s Roman Catholic faith, the weather, and the battle scenes and regalia of the American Civil War count among the artist’s diverse influences. Compare the source materials on view in this gallery with the original art work by Darger in the nearby exhibitions.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition:
The Huffington Post


Teacher Fellowship Program Student Exhibition

 Postcard design by Sandra Mars

Postcard design by Sandra Mars

June 3-July 4, 2017
Curated by Joel Javier and Melissa Smith
 

Intuit's Teacher Fellowship Program Student Exhibition will showcase participants in the 2016-2017 Teacher Fellowship Program. Inspired by self-taught and outsider art, students transform found and non-traditional materials into art pieces that reflect their personal visions. Join us for a free, family-friendly opening reception on June 10.

The Teacher Fellowship Program is Intuit's award-winning professional development program for teachers from Chicago Public Schools that reaches more than 600 students across Chicago annually. The core value of the program is enabling teachers to give their students an opportunity to translate their personal vision to art-making using non-traditional materials in a non-judgmental environment: Each person has creative potential. By participating in the program, teachers collaborate with colleagues on a lesson plan to help their students integrate the characteristics of outsider art into cross-disciplinary arts learning. Intuit's Teacher Fellowship Program is sponsored in part by generous grants from Crown Family Philanthropies, Polk Bros Foundation, Terra Foundation for American Art, Alphawood Foundation, and Driehaus Foundation.

The 18 teachers whose students will be represented in the exhibition are from nine participating Chicago Public Schools, including: Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School, John W. Garvy Elementary School, Morton School of Excellence, John Marshall Metropolitan High School, Ogden International School, José Clemente Orozco Community Academy, Vaughn Occupational High School, Thomas J. Waters Elementary School, and Wildwood IB World Magnet School.


 Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973).  COLONEL JACK F EVANS , mid-twentieth century. Watercolor, pencil, ink, and collage on board, 13 ¾ x 11 ½ in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase, 2002.22.5. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY.

Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). COLONEL JACK F EVANS, mid-twentieth century. Watercolor, pencil, ink, and collage on board, 13 ¾ x 11 ½ in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase, 2002.22.5. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY.

January 20-May 29, 2017
Curated by Michael Bonesteel


In the juxtaposition of Henry Darger’s art and writings, audiences can explore how the artist approached related subjects in different mediums. Surprising to many, Henry Darger created very few works of art that depict specific episodes from his epic novel, Realms of the Unreal.

For example, he made numerous captioned references to a fictional location called “Jennie Richee” in his artwork, but there are only occasional brief mentions of this place in the Realms novel. Nothing significant happened at Jennie Richee in the written story, yet there are dozens of scenes depicting events occurring at Jennie Richee in his art. Therefore, it seems likely that his art was an extension of, and an improvisation on, his writing—more than it was an illustration of it.

Similar examinations of Darger’s writings and artwork have been performed in scholarly essays but never presented in a museum or gallery setting where viewers can see an actual work of art next to a facsimile of a corresponding page of text. In fact, pages from the Realms are almost never exhibited except for the occasional display of a Realmsvolume from the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum, so it is a rare opportunity to see Darger’s art and read his words in one and the same viewing.

Visit the following links to read coverage of this exhibition:
Chicago Gallery News
Newcity

Special thanks to the American Folk Art Museum, New York, for its generous loans of Henry Darger artworks and archives.


 Adolf Wölfli (Swiss, 1864-1930).  Untitled , 1928. Graphite and colored pencil on paper, 13 x 18 ½ in. Collection of Audrey B. Heckler. Photo by Visko Hatfield

Adolf Wölfli (Swiss, 1864-1930). Untitled, 1928. Graphite and colored pencil on paper, 13 x 18 ½ in. Collection of Audrey B. Heckler. Photo by Visko Hatfield

Unreal Realms

January 20-March 26, 2017
Curated by Jan Petry and David Syrek


As a jumping-off point, Unreal Realms takes the world Henry Darger imagined in his Tolkien-esque novel, In the Realms of the Unreal, and provides a view into the otherworldly places created in the artworks of Adolf Wölfli, A. G. Rizzoli, Charles A. A. Dellschau, Ken Grimes and Darger. The nature of these works, which often are described as “visionary,” call attention to their makers’ sensibilities and outlooks.

“The focus of this exhibit is to posit a group of artists, like Henry Darger, whose body of work was a narrative of an alternative reality,” said Jan Petry, who co-curated the exhibit with David Syrek.

According to the art critic and author of the exhibit’s accompanying essay, Edward Gómez, “To encounter even a single image by any one of these artists, all of whom were or are primarily picture-makers, is to enter into the distinctive, imaginary world to which each one of them gave lasting, visible form.”

Click below to view the exhibition catalog.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition:
Chicago Tribune