Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Realms of the Unreal

Henry Darger was born April 12, 1892. He depicted the child slave rebellion through his paintings and stories. His paintings were comical, sad, and horrifying and the scenes were written as though they were about him. He painted girls with male genitalia. His mother died and his baby sister was adopted. His father was a lame tailor and eventually went to St. Augustine’s poor house. Darger ended up in a Catholic boys’ home. He made silly noises in school and the other kids beat him up. He was excommunicated from school. He ended up in an asylum in Lincoln, Illinois which was a children’s nut house for feeble minded kids. It was 162 miles away from Chicago. There he worked on the state farm with about 1,500 other children. While he was there, he received word that his father had passed away. Once he tried running away and the guard caught him, tied his hands together, and made him run all the way back behind his horse. He eventually escaped, walking all the way to Chicago. He went to work at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital as a janitor at the age of 17. He was a collector of magazines and comics. He experimented with overlay, collage, copying, and tracing. The world he created was his life. When he was older and became ill, his neighbor discovered his work and told him his artwork was beautiful. Darger responded by saying it was too late now. He passed away April 1973.

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