press release

HENRY DARGER (1892 - 1972) All images in the exhibition are: watercolor, pencil, carbon tracing and sometimes collage on pieced paper. The text on the signs derive from the inscription on the work. Repeated spelling and grammar mistakes by the artist are not corrected. At times stop and comma has been added to make the text more readable. Untitled paintings have been assigned a title from the work's subject. The Swedish translation is a free interpretation since the meaning of the text at times is difficult to grasp.

When Henry Darger died in Chicago in 1972, a 15,000 page manuscript was found in his home. He had spent most of his life working on the text and illustrations for his epic, "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco- Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion". Often shortened to "The Realms of the Unreal".

After writing his saga Henry Darger illustrated it. The drawings are as complex as the title. The story and the illustrations present a fantasy world with the innocence of a nursery tale and the cruelty of folkloristic tales such as those by the Brothers Grimm. Most of the characters are children. The good fight the evil in shape of seven young girls, the heroines of the story, who fight against the evil Glandelinians.

Brooke Anderson, director of Museum of American Folk Art, New York, which has a special Henry Darger Study Center, says: "This is just great art. You just kind of sit in awe of his intuitive talent, the powerful composition and the color. Then we have this wild make-believe world that he enters, that makes it even more fantastic. It's a classic tale. War, love, fighting, it's all present in there." Darger used found clippings when he made his images. In his home he had a collection of thousands of ready made images from children's coloring books, advertising and comic books that he used as models for his illustrations. The figures were cut out and used or traced and then colored. To have them in different scale he had Xerox enlargements made. On the images text is usually added that describes the scene.

Both the content, the method and Darger's own fate attract attention. Parallels have been drawn between his work and his life. After his mother died, he grew up in orphanages and then lived a solitary life. Darger seems to have pursued his interests with a fascination bordering on the obsessive, which is reflected in his drawings. He was constantly following weather reports and for ten years he kept journals with notes on the weather. He followed war reports in the newspapers and was also interested in historical battles such as Americas Civil War. Darger had a catholic upbringing and seems to have had an ambiguous relationship to religion, but could nevertheless attend mass several times a day.

Darger's drawings have been exhibited with Goya's series of etchings, The Disasters of War, and the Chapman brothers' paraphrase of them. . In the spring, the two series were shown at the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, the latter on loan from Magasin 3. He has inspired contemporary artists working within different genres most obviously his work has an important influence on contemporary artist within the visual arts today.

The exhibition was organized by P.S.1/MoMA, New York and Kunst-Werke, Berlin. The exhibition is realized from the collection of Mrs. Kiyoko Lerner Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, Illoniois, USA.


Henry Darger: Disasters of War