Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Henry Darger













Hello!
There is no homework this week. However, if you missed class please research Henry Darger and his Realms of the Unreal. If you would like extra credit, please post a reflection about Darger and the Realms of the Unreal here.

20 comments:

Ramona Hill said...

Henry Darger
It would seem to me that this man never really had a childhood. Looking at his art work and the early parts of his life, he never had the chance to be a child. There seemed to be alot of misfortune and disappointment in his life, so his paintings look like that of a gifted child. From what his neighbors discribed, he saw this as a child saw them. And though this man lived a very simple life, he seem content. I also believe that life was very harsh to him and his escape was this fantasy world he created. I think he took a hobby (his art) and made it his life's work.

Amara Manickchand said...

Henry Darger's fantasy world seems to represent what he wanted in real life. His artwork is very childish as he uses images from children's coloring books. while being childish it is also very colorful and imaginative. the creatures that he would invent that would save or help the children would be a mixture of mystical creatures, dragons, mermaids, faries. his dream world would combine his own childhood with the story of his characters.
his understanding of children only came from what he would imagine or from what he rembered as a child, because as an adult he never spoke to any children. his neighbours called him a reculse because he would never speak to any of them.
today his novel is considered to be one of the longest novels written at 15,145 typed pages. The text is accompanied by three bound volumes of several hundred illustrations, scroll-like watercolor paintings on paper, the work of six decades, derived from magazines and coloring books. In addition, Darger wrote an eight volume, 5,084-page autobiography, The History of my Life; a 10-year daily weather journal; assorted diaries; and a second work of fiction, provisionally entitled Crazy House, of over 10,000 handwritten pages.

momgoinnuts64 said...

WOW!!!! As I started reading about Henry Darger and how his life began when brought into this world, I began feeling a bit sorry for him, but as I read on I was floored by the description of some of his writings. His work In The Realms of the Unreal seems to be written with extremely dark undertones that mirror a great deal of sadness as well. I will tell you that if I had the patience(and time) to sit and read over 15,000 pages, I would most certainly read all his volumes within the "In The Realms of the Unreal" series. It is quite sad that at the age of 24, when he started writing this piece, he already had such a negative outlook on life. His artwork looks like someone in their pre-teens or early teens produced them and I don't know if he did that intentionally or if that was just how he truly painted. I think I could have probably dealt with all the stories about the children and their battles BC(before children), but since giving birth, I find it more difficult to hear or read about any type of atrocities against our babies. I think being mom has absolutely made me much more emotional. I did love the way Darger portrayed some of his females with male genitalia..Although some thought he was not "UP" on girls' bodies, I took it as he felt girls can have just as much "balls" as boys do. LOVE IT!! I feel that his upbringing can shed a lot of light on the fact that we need to pat attention to our own actions and choices because what we think is harmless to our kids, can actually be quite devastating. They pay attention and understand more than we think they do and it can affect them in ways we don't understand when they are older as it obviously did for Darger. Sad, very sad.

kalani said...

Henry Darger, what to say about him, he had a very creative and magical imagination. Amasing how through is life how much art and writing he was able to create, It said after he died they found all his work in his room in two story house were he spent all his time isolated from the whole world, which were 12 massive volumes with 1900 hundred words in them; it took 11yrs to rewrite. Also pictures and images of cut outs, traces, and hand drawn creations in images: like flying fairies with horns,girls with male organs,very graphic battle scenes,etc. Looking at some of his art work it would seem as if where not really familiar with a normal life, he would place male organs on the little girls in his stories. It was said that he worked in a hospital i figure even as grow up a person should beable to tell the different parts of female and male. People say that he probably was trying potray that female should and are able to do anything a male is capable of doing.Though Henry Darger was more into his writings and physical world one might say that he was a crazy skitsophranic,mentally crazy person. Which actually I would kind of agree, but is work was amazing though some disturbing, it was still amazing and extraordinary work.

Charlene Dodge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlene Dodge said...

On the subject of Henry Darger, I have to say I am not a fan of his artwork. I give him credit for being creative enough to write and illustrate an epic adventure of little girls battling with the enemy in "In The Realms of the Unreal", but I just cannot shake the creep-factor from his work. I feel as if my ten year old son could draw and paint better than Darger and my son would certainly know better than to draw nude little girls, unless he wanted to get in big trouble by me! Yes, Darger lived a very unfortunate and destitute life and it was a shame that his landlord didn’t discover his work sooner so he could reap the benefits, but his art is just not to my liking.

Brittany Watson said...

I also agree with Charlene, after reading about Henry Darger I too was a little creeped out. Yes, he did have a way with watercolor...but drawing nude little girls? I read that his favorite figures were the Coopertone Girl and Little Annie Rooney, you would think that as time went on he would start drawing woman and not just little girls. I believe that since he childhood was so rough that he may have just lived as a child his whole life instead of actually "growing up" and therefore saw nothing wrong with drawing pictures of little girls. Or maybe he was just a creepy old man...I will definitely remember his name next time I hear it.

Angie said...

Henry Darger is a man that some considered to be paranoid schizophranic, but that most just thought was kind of wierd. Like his father he was a civil war expert and used this liking to portray some of the things in his Realms of the Unreal. The Realms were also very centered around religion, which seems very wierd to me. He is particularly known for his magnificent gift for composititon and the way that he could use color in his watercolor paintings. He also portrays transgender in some of his paintings. When looking at the paintings, they are quite childlike and very uninteresting to me. The man seems more interesting to read about than the paintings are to look at. The colors are pretty and bright, but the content is to me something that a child would be more interested in. Maybe that was his intention....I dont know. Anyway, he seems like an interesting man and his art seems mostly the opposite.

Aviree Jordan said...

I believe that the way that Henry Darger percieved life was what he wrote about in his The Realm of Unreal and his art work. I mean he took it to an extreme but he did have a realy rough childhood, actually he didn't really have much of one. Which is why I believe that his work was so dark and graphic. This guy really had a sad life and it was depressing to see what his outlook on life was. It is really cool how he and his close friend wanted to open a center for neglected and abused children. Unfortunately it never happened. I know that Darger really became famous after his death but I wish that he would have so that maybe he would have seen that life was not as bad as he percieved it was.

clalexa said...

Some of the information I found about Henry Darger sound like a real novel to me such a sad upbringing and such a rich legacy. Henry Joseph Darger, Jr. (April 12(?), 1892–April 13, 1973) was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a janitor in Chicago, Illinois.[1] He has become famous for his posthumously discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called 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, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story.[2] Darger's work has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art. Henry Darger was one of those people hardly anyone notices, who, seemingly, move through life as shadows.
His dress was shabby; he was a solitaryIn 1930 he settled into a second-floor room on Chicago's north side. It was in this room, more than 40 years later, after his death in 1973, that Darger's extraordinary secret life was discovered.. Amid a thick accumulation of debris- including hundreds of Pepto-Bismol bottles, nearly a thousand balls of string, old newspapers, magazines and comic books, religious kitsch and much more- his landlord, the photographer Nathan Lerner, found a creative life's work: an enormous literary and pictorial production. The key element was a picaresque tale in 12 massive volumes composed of some 19,000 pages of legal-sized paper filled with single-spaced typing entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in what is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. The origins of this epic appear to be in 1909. It took more than eleven years to write it in longhand; in 1912 Darger began the task of typing the still incomplete manuscript. The story recounts the wars between the nations on an enormous and unnamed planet, of which Earth is a moon. By far the most important supplement to the book, however, exists in the several hundred watercolor paintings Darger left in his room, many of them illustrations for The Realms of the Unreal. They transform Darger’s apocalyptic text into a body of images that are among the most original and beautiful in outsider art. These works- pencil drawings on paper painted over with watercolor and occasional additions of collage- illustrate incidents in the book with a precision and amplitude of detail not possible in a written narrative. Textual annotations are also typically parts of these compositions, suggesting that picturing the reality of the event by every means available was a pressing need for the artist.

Gabi said...

Henry Darger's work reflects a dark art that comes from his tainted heart. It's apparent that he was crazed and twisted from society's perception, for example, his fixation on murdered children, and having been prisoned in a funny farm at a young age. I feel that all of his writings on this topic display the grotesqueness of it; however, its almost as if he enjoyed hearing stories and researching murders. Why else would anybody go to the extreme to write fictional novels regarding it? True, analysts conclude that he wanted to protect children and to see that they had many opportunities in life. Only a man who was perhaps abused himself would be dwelling on such cruel truths and stories about children. Being mistaken as an ordinary man his whole life, his art supersedes the ordinary, imprinting his name throughout many museums of art.

Chelsea Griffin said...

I found the man Henry Darger, and his art to be very intresting. His paintings have such a fantasy, child like quality to them that I really enjoyed. This may be attributed to a turbulent childhood. He was considered by many to be a eccentric man, which can be seen clearly in his work. Throughout his lifetime e published a books with varying lengths (some of which are very extreme), that included many handwritten drawings and oddities. Although I enjoyed his artwork, some pieces I found to be rather disturbed. It leads me to believe that where the paintings came from were far from innocent. The fact that he is considered by many to be a recluse also bothers me. I believe that if he were evaluated today, he might be diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder. Unfortunently, like so many artists, his works were not appreciated until after his death.

TheSlimeOnTheRadio said...

Henry Darger.. hmm... He was quite the recluse, as only 3 of his pictures are in circulation. I wonder what kind of childhood he had and indeed if he had a childhood. He seems to glorify children as possessing some sort of innate ability to penetrate adults' BS. I don't have the patience nor the interest to read his 15,000 page fantasy though he certainly is a symbol of outsider art. It's interesting how he took the girl's face from those popular advertisements and made her the "archetype" for his illustrations, although I found his drawings very crude and the product of a very "special" person. I don't have many thoughts on the male genitalia on the girls, and for that I'm grateful, but I think "momgoinnuts64"'s observation is interesting in respect to girls possessing the testicular fortitude of males and thats certainly one thought on what he may have been trying to portray. He was quite the interesting character...

Heretic with Hot Dogs said...

First of all, and everyone, I mean this in the best possible way: None of us knows Henry Darger, so to say he IS or WAS something is ridiculous. We all saw a movie and read 2nd or 3rd hand accounts of people who either knew, knew about, or were aware of him, for the sake of all, get the language right. Try not to get offended, I wasn't being mean, I just think it diminishes the notion of Henry Darger and demeans his existence for ANYONE to say what he was, how he did it, or why, even himself. If he did know, no one ever heard that either.
That being said, it seems to me that Henry Darger was an absolute beast. It seems to me that he had more of a grasp on reality than 99% of humans on this world. He was also better at expressing it. I wouldn't be able to tell you if he feared other people, felt himself superior, or was just socially inept, no matter how you slice it, I think it is safe to say he's said more by saying nothing and letting it be interpreted from what he's left behind.
As for drawing little girls with penises. That was beautiful and graceful. More insightful than even I would choose to be, seeing as my head-circuitry has been damaged by the qualms and misgivings of our prudent and brash-shortsighted society. If any of you think nudity is bad, you'd have to smell awful to never be naked to bathe. Sex? If that's bad then it should be and you wouldn't be here. But simplicity and depiction? I trust that is what I got from Darger, whether he wanted me to have it or not. There are two halves to the whole we call humanity, and children are innocent. Little girls with no developed breasts and penises must be gods. Powerful, fearless, resourceful and clever little gods.
How brilliant of Darger to imply that there is no Grandfather in the sky with a big book and lightning bolts of judgment. We are our own saviors. Darger knew it. I can say that last line and not feel as if I've breached my introduction because I AM Henry Darger, just as much as any of you are. I just choose to admit it and take the time to understand.
He wasn't good, he wasn't bad, he wasn't right and he most certainly wasn't wrong. He just was.
How brilliant to just exist. With a ravenous mind and too much trouble wading through all the shit that we sentient creatures just love to heap on each other.
Come to think of it, he was probably anti-social because everybody sucks. He talked to himself because this is what we would sound like if we were compassionate and understanding. If we knew love.
Henry Darger just wasn't anything special, and THAT is what makes him and his so great.

vhenry said...

I did attend class, but let me say that I would post an opinion on the Realms whether it was extra-credit or not. How fascinating it was, from beginning to end. The myriad of colors, the story-line that mirrored war stories, the artwork so creative to be from an artist that was self-taught, and probably the most intriguing and saddening was the fact that he died living most of his life in the fantasy-world he created.

The fact that girls in his parody had penises and that at times he viewed himself as a girl was insignificant when looking at how intricate and original his world was. It was as if looking at his numerous artwork and going over his journals was like attending a on-going movie that never went over the same scene twice! Even days after watching it in the class, I still had pictures of girls and dragons, and cartoon figures going to battle. I guess it's true what they say that true art comes within from what one perceives from without. What an artist he was and will always be remembered to be.

JaneKennedy said...

I have yet to decide wether Darger was crazy or briliant. However, I most certainly beliveve that his imagination inspired him to be an orginal. Darger's creativity revealed a side that he kept concealed throughout his life. I also believe that Darger had us beat when it came to finding himself. We spend our entire life searching for who we are and thinking of what sort of impression we want to leave. Darger discovered himself and spent the rest of his time working on his impression. Perhaps the "Realms of The Unreal" was what God wanted Darger to spend his life creating.

Kim Fresco said...

After reading about Henry Darger, I thought it was intresting how many of the women in his artwork, had penisis. I like the fact that he thought that women could do the same as men, which I truely agree with. After taking a look at his artwork, I can tell this man lived a life of fantasy and his artwork reflected this fantasy. I also beleive that the the reason for his fantasy world was becasue that is the world he wanted to live. Darger had a very sad life, from the begining, and he lived deseption after desption and thus he looked for a better place and this better place was his fantasy world. His artwork is like a child or a teen would have done them, I dont believe this is was intentional but it is the way he saw things becasue of this fantasy world he lived in.

shannon blackburn said...

Watching the movie on Darger was an eye opener on a very complex man. His background was not of sound mind or body. He really did not have a role model to immulate so he stayed a child in his own mind. His paintings were shocking and very odd. The colors he used were bright and vibrant, which his life was not. I think he was let down by the few people he knew so his socila skills were none. I think he had a little bit of a phychotic mind frame thus all the different voices he used behind closed doors. He never married or had children and thus came his obsession for them. He painted mostly children of both sexes and that was a little difficult to see. His art was his life and it took over his life. At least he passed doing what he enjoyed.

Miranda said...

Henry Darger was a man who only had himself and his childlike paintings that no one knew he painted until after his death in 1973. He had a very quiet life, working as a janitor in a Chicago hospital from around the age of thirty until his retirement in 1963. Darger lived in a room the size of a small kitchen, stuffed with his artwork and other trinkets and tokens collected over time that meant somethig to him.

Stephen Kovach said...

Henry Darger was without question one very unique fellow, it feel it is one of those cases in which it is hard to judge the fine line between madness and Greatness. While from a artistic point of view so of his are stunning to look at and can really take you to another place. His methods were so unique with the way he involved clippings from whatever he could get his hands on. My personal opinion I think he might tip the scale a little towards the madness side. Yes he showed amazing creative imagination to create epic story he did, in the film it said over fifteen thousand pages of stories and to create all the characters and creatures in his twisted world. But some of it is just twisted. The fields of all the children hanging covered in blood as far as the eye can see and the pictures of little girls tearing out the insides of people are evidence to make me question what was going on up stairs. Back on the positive side it was ridiculous to think how he kept such extensive records of the war as if it were really going on. He kept casualties lists for every battle, and money records of what went into the war effort. And the huge biographies and background stories he has of all the generals and important players in the war. But in conclusion would I want his work hanging on my was in my house, to be honest NO.