Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Last night, in prepartion for hopefully later seeing the Henry Darger exhibit at the Frye Art Museum, my wife and I watched In the Realms of the Unreal, the documentary about Henry Darger.

One of only 3 known pictures of the artist.

For those of you who are unfamilar with him, Henry Darger was a janitor/hermit that lived from 1892 to 1973 in the suburbs of Chicago. He lived a very solitary life, with nearly no friends. But, when his landlords went to clean out his apartment while he was on his deathbed, they were stunned to find that he had secretly created hundreds of works of art and several novels, including the 15,000 page mega-novel: 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.

While the subject matter of his work (which included epic wars, religious imagery and many depictions of naked children of ambigious gender) can and should be a subject of much discussion, the thing that amazed me was the sheet volume and dedication of his output.

I'm someone who flirts with writting, designs the occasional board or card game, and draws significantly less than I should. So, I think that part of me is envious (though I'm not sure that's the right word) of someone being able to cast aside all outside distractions to focus on creating so single mindedly. It can probably be argued that he was a very mentally distrubed individual, but I'm still impressed by the sheer volume of his creative output and the single mindedness of his internal vision.

Worth checking out if your consider yourself an artist, but never actually do art.

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