15,145 Pages. No, I’m not talking about Dickens or Proust.

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 storyDarger’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!

5 thoughts on “15,145 Pages. No, I’m not talking about Dickens or Proust.

  1. Although I do not know if her works are ‘officially’ classified as ‘outsider art’, this reminded me of the story of the French painter Seraphine de Senlis, sometimes classed as ‘naive’, sometimes as a ‘modern primitive’. I mention her because there is a great film about her called “Seraphine”, which, if you have not seen, I think you would enjoy.

    As for Darger, this is all new to me, so I really appreciate this post.

  2. I so loved the film ” in the Realm of the Unreal” & the whole strange story of Henry Darger, but I have yet to actually see any of his work. I so wish I could see this exhibit.
    I am now anxious to see the film Lorenzo spoke about as well.
    Thanks as always!

  3. Aha–I had seen that film recommended to me by Netflix. I will have to add it to the queue.

    Seb, yes, his pictures of naked girls are somehow innocent–so innocent some have what look like penises, suggesting he might not have known the difference…which is rather hard to believe but he was an odd individual.

    How lovely you all had a chance to see it. It almost makes me consider getting a TV

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