15, 145 pages. Several hundred drawings. It was hardly what the landlords of Henry Darger expected to find in their deceased tenant’s room. Darger had an uneventful life of poverty and janitorial work, so his long novel and extremely detailed drawings charting the wild adventures of his favorite characters, the Vivian girls, were quite the surprise. I watched the awesome PBS documentary “In the Realms of the Unreal,” which charts the biography of Henry Darger and how his life affected his writings and drawings.
Among his various works, including a biography, he is famous for the 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. Darger’s work has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art. It shows the power of imagination and obsessiveness over the humblest circumstances.
To my joy, I was walking by the American Folk Art Museum yesterday, and saw that they are currently showing an exhibition called Up Close: Henry Darger and Coloring Books. What luck!