press release

Henry Darger (1892-1973) was a self-taught artist and recluse who created and inhabited an imaginary world through extensive writings, paintings and drawings. Darger’s previously unknown volume of work was discovered by his Chicago neighbor and landlord and made public upon Darger’s death. This solitary artist left behind several diaries and manuscripts including a six-part weather journal, an autobiography in eight volumes, and his illustrated epic, The Story of the Vivian Girls in what is known as The Realms of the Unreal. Accompanied by detailed watercolor paintings and collages, the 15,000-page novel focuses on the heroic efforts of a band of girls to free enslaved children held captive by an army of adults. The novel and its illustrations are both whimsical and sinister in their depiction of war and peace and good versus evil. Drawn from the American Folk Art Museum’s Henry Darger collection, this traveling exhibition includes 20 paintings, drawings and tracings by the artist, source materials— including clippings from newspapers, magazines, comic books, cartoons, children’s books and coloring books, as well as Darger’s personal documents and other ephemera. One bound volume of the original typewritten manuscript of In the Realms of the Unreal will also be exhibited.

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Henry Darger