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Author Topic: Henry Darger  (Read 14608 times)
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LR
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« on: December 31, 2009, 02:31:47 PM »

i dont know much about Henry Darger, only from what can be read on wikipedia, i have only seen one book of his drawings and never read any of the books. but i think still with this little knowledge of his work that he is worthy of a Topic.
 did anyone ever try to read his scripts? can anyone say wich books/artbooks to get?




"Henry Joseph Darger, Jr. (April 12(?), 1892–April 13, 1973) was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a custodian 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."
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2009, 07:50:56 PM »

haven't heard of this, but looks like I need to check.
The crude approach reminds of somehow of Finnish genious Kalervo Palsa, who is most likely 100% unknown abroad. "Recollections of Pensioner" or something like that, is a great comic book published after his death. He obsessively draw that to himself, with no intent of publication. Book size comic, very crudely drawn (compared to his skills as painter) being about old man telling old memories of his life. Involving necrophilia, pedophilia, homosexual acts, all kinds of perversion.
Relatively big publishers put this out, also funded by state's art grants. But is really is lowest of the low. Made great impact me as teenager boy when I found it from small town local library! Most of his stuff is at storage of modern art museum of Finland, but I think one published is doing another book or two of his leftovers during 2010.

To me, artists who has no aim in publicity, no aim to even publish in first place, just creating because of possession & NEED, can be some of the most interesting and honest.

Therefore, I will have to look into this Henry Darger character.
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2010, 11:37:57 PM »

The American comic book "Raw" published a rather good section of his work, including fold-outs of his larger works. Sadly, I no longer have that edition. From what I remember, it states he was an obsessive who documented the weather every day. Lived by himself and most of his work was found after he was dead. He copied a lot of his images from childrens' book, magazines, etc. I remember these very graphic graphics of young girls being strangled, their tounges lolling out, hanging naked from scaffolds and trees with feet removed, etc. His fetishes where there for all to see. And he spent every waking hour, when he was not working his job, on his art.
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"Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim." - Schopenhauer.
LR
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2010, 02:06:35 AM »

i think veryoften the art of "outsiders" has something else to offer, than big famous artists. not saying that the one thing is better than the other, but there is often another kind of personallity to something that has been created only for the enjoyment/?? of the artist. there is no movement, no hype,none of all these things that is often a big part of "Normal artists" approach. also the fact that in this case the artwork is not intended to communicate. its just there for its own sake so to say, this is one thing i miss in normal artworld, every time i go to an art show i see more and more often "very simple artwork+ very long essay" i think this way of expressing hardly ever is very interesting, when art becomes your excuse to communicate a message, for the sake of the message with the artwork secondary i dont see why people dont just print out essay and skip the exebition. its like making a record, but all you really wanna do is write lyrics, why not put out a zine with poems instead?? i personally prefer a mix,a dose of artistic expression and a dose of thourght. so its not just a pretty design and not just concept, but a bit of both.

yes Henry Darger is deffinitly worth checking out, just look at the picture posted in first post, could be new Nicole12 cover. also i noticed and later read somwhere that when displaying the "vivian girls" naked, they are shown with male genitals. i dont know why, it is intersting, gives it even more of a wierd vibe.

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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2010, 11:09:43 PM »

 I think the most interesting thing about him is he kept everything to himself. I bet that long fucking novel is almost unreadable but would be nice to own or, at least, to check out from the local library... haha

I've only seen the paintings that are online..
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 08:08:28 AM »

I've seen it in person, one of the only times I've been to a gallery/art museum. It was impressive to see how large the landscapes were along with his so-called techniques, but it was sickening to be going around looking at this stuff "cafeteria style" with like Asian schoolgirls stroking their chins looking at it on either side of me. It just makes you think that maybe "outsider art" shouldn't be put in that kind of context. But then again, what is a proper context for it? Books and documentaries? By acknowledging it at all, it almost defeats the retarded magic.

The most interesting part about the awful documentary (that fucking little girl narrator....) was when they briefly talked about Darger's complete ignorance toward sexuality, how his landlord told a story about Darger telling people "I was raped" when he didn't seem to have an understanding of what rape even was.
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 12:32:06 PM »

I've seen it in person, one of the only times I've been to a gallery/art museum. It was impressive to see how large the landscapes were along with his so-called techniques, but it was sickening to be going around looking at this stuff "cafeteria style" with like Asian schoolgirls stroking their chins looking at it on either side of me. It just makes you think that maybe "outsider art" shouldn't be put in that kind of context. But then again, what is a proper context for it? Books and documentaries? By acknowledging it at all, it almost defeats the retarded magic.

The most interesting part about the awful documentary (that fucking little girl narrator....) was when they briefly talked about Darger's complete ignorance toward sexuality, how his landlord told a story about Darger telling people "I was raped" when he didn't seem to have an understanding of what rape even was.

What I gleaned was that Darger was slightly retarded or something, and he was COMPLETELY unaware of the female anatomy, he just assumed little girls had little cocks.

I've got a book of his stuff, and that documentary is really annoying.  Would love to see the complete book.  Endless permutations of little girls getting strangled and children at war.  Perfect.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2010, 09:23:05 PM »

That's pretty interesting about Darger. I'd forgotten about the documentary & it sounds like he should have been kept a secret. A little narrates the documentary?!? Kind of funny. I won't be seeking it out.
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2010, 10:01:16 PM »

It's not just any little girl, it's that little cunt Dakota Fanning, who from my understanding is basically Haley Joel Osment with a pussy.

Just look at the wikipedia sometime....

Quote
Since his death in 1973 and the discovery of his massive opus, and especially since the 1990s, there have been many references in popular culture to Darger's work—references by other visual artists (including, but not limited to, artists of comics and graphic novels); numerous songs by artists from Snakefinger (one of the earliest, in 1979) to Natalie Merchant (on her 2001 album Motherland) to the American indie band Wussy on their album Left For Dead (2007); a 1999 book-length poem, Girls on the Run, by John Ashbery; and a 2004 multimedia piece by choreographer Pat Graney incorporating Darger images. These artists have variously drawn from and responded to Darger's artistic style, his themes (especially the Vivian Girls, the young heroines of Darger's massive illustrated novel), and the events in his life. Jessica Yu's 2004 documentary In the Realms of the Unreal details Darger's life and artworks.

Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up include a track entitled "Vivian Girls" on the 2006 album Hidden World, the lyrics of which deal with the violent plot and the nature of Darger's fixation on the virginal main characters.[citation needed]

The Vivian Girls, an all-girl indie/punk/shoegaze trio from Brooklyn, took their name from Darger's work.[20]

The Vivian Girls were namechecked by San Francisco guitarist Snakefinger (Philip Lithman Roth), an associate of the Residents, in his song "The Vivian Girls." The song was also recorded by Camper Van Beethoven offshoot Monks of Doom on their 1989 LP The Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company.

Sufjan Stevens released a song titled "The Vivian Girls Are Visited in the Night by Saint Dargarius and His Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies" on his 2006 compilation album The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album.

Indie rock band ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have a song titled "Segue: In the Realms of the Unreal" on their 2006 album So Divided.

Jesse Kellerman's 2008 novel The Genius took part of its inspiration from Darger's story.[citation needed]

The artist Grayson Perry cites Darger as "the artist he identifies most with in terms of his creative pathways," and his influence can clearly be seen in Perry's use of visual language.[citation needed]

Comic book artist Scott McCloud refers to Darger's work in his book Making Comics, while describing the danger artists encounter in the creation of a character's back-story. McCloud says that complicated narratives can easily spin out of control when too much unseen information is built up around the characters.[21]

In her coffee table book, Influence, Mary-Kate Olsen cited Darger as one of her favorite painters.

The Simpsons references Darger in the episode "Lisa the Drama Queen". Lisa Simpson goes to the American Folk Art Museum and Darger paintings can be seen.

The Venture Brothers references Darger in the episode, "Self-Medication"(episode 406). Sgt. Hatred, after commenting that the film he and Hank & Dean Venture are watching (with obvious similarities to Tolkien's "The Return of the King")"has an awful lot of realms", then after being told that "(elves)...don't have a gender...just stay 13 forever", calls out, "What? Did Henry Darger write this?!"


"OUTSIDER ART", ladies and gentlemen.... outsider.... art. Amazing world we live in.
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2010, 02:16:47 AM »

I had to look Dakota up... I think I remember the episode of THE SIMPSONS.

I originally looked Darger up from one of Sotos' books so another hip connection for the list.
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 10:27:22 AM »

If we look from viewers perspective, I guess outsider art will remain truly outsider only for some time. When moment comes that "outsider" gets appreciated and praised everywhere, especially after he has already died... Does it change the nature of art itself?

Question would be:
Is outsider art definition from artists point of view or audience point of view? I think it would be foolish in first place to assume outsider art is at all based on "success", perhaps even posthumous success.
When works done by person who created his works, outside typical art scene enviroment /art institutions, for his own obsessive needs, it is outsider in original meaning of term. Does for example nature of noise change when it's known by 6 people who have rough tape and its underground, and suddenly 1000 people know same material and it changes its nature to hip & accessible? Material was still created under same methods and motivations, which should be what defines it material itself.

If we look the history of term:
Quote
The term outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut (French: [aʁ bʁyt], "raw art" or "rough art"), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane-asylum inmates.[1]

While Dubuffet's term is quite specific, the English term "outsider art" is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or Naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.

Outsider art has emerged as a successful art marketing category (an annual Outsider Art Fair has taken place in New York since 1992). The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people outside the mainstream "art world," regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work.

In 1991, the first and only such organization dedicated to the study, exhibition and promotion of outsider art was formed in Chicago: Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Chicago is often recognized for its concentration of self taught and outsider artists, among them -- Henry Darger, Joseph Yoakum, Lee Godie, William Dawson, David Philpot, and Wesley Willis. Intuit maintains a non-profit museum, open to the public, which features exhibitions of art by intuitive, outsider, and self taught artists.


I think in Finland, there is situation similar to "everywhere else". Where there is the real art scene. High profile established galleries, museums and artist. And there is no business with anyone with any offensive, unusual or low level art. But then as alternative, there is obviously alternative option, with low level galleries, alternative spaces.. exhibitions happening in certain bars or venue, and so on. And it's hard to really call member of some scene as "outsider". Or at least not all of them. Being self taught, being outside of mainstream, they still create large relatively homogenous micro society, where people aren't outsiders.


Rather than outsider art, I would find more supportable terms perhaps TRANSGRESSIVE ART, SUBVERSIVE ART, ANTI-SOCIAL ART, etc.. Of course almost equally vague, but...

And slight offtopic:
I have had few exhibitions in my life, mostly about comics/drawings and photographs. First back in.. 1994 or 1995 maybe in Imatra culture central what was together with me getting 1000fim (150€) grant from city for purpose of art. Excuse me for being poor teenageboy with no $$, so I had to hustle little to get money for printing costs of book. Then there was some youth art fest, I don't remember where. Same year. Jyväskylä maybe? One among hundreds. I was very disconnected from whole thing, wanted nothing to do with it. Then it took pretty much 10+ years until I was lured to take part in local comic society exhibition taking place in toilets of bars around the city. I said ok, since I knew the people and knew they need few more guys. I taped some xeroxes on urinals and walls of filthy K-18 sleaze humor. After that there was group exhibition in Lahti modern art museum, where my works were presented in same exhibition as Roy Lichtenstein (whatever) and other cult pop artists and the rising experimental comic artists of local art school. Then followed was publishing small photo catalogue & exhibition in Osaka. Very small thing in culturally oriented bar who held 1 week exhibitions in their walls. It was ok, but in the end, I felt like just doing compromises and speeding up process what should have been very different.
All these happened due request from some organiser who know me due reason or another. I have yet to start promote my "art", but my interest in books and printed matter quarantees that at some point books/zines will again start appearing. Won't care under which label it is filed.
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010, 08:03:28 PM »

I watched the document on youtube whilst waiting for something this morning. I was slightly under the infuence but it seemed like a neat little thing. I hope most of the narratives were from the books and journals but who knows.

the scale and volume of his hobbies is what surprised me. I doubt I would read the books or weather reports but seeing the paintings in real life  would be nice.

personally I might get a bigger kick out of those looneybin painters though they are not as technical as darger whos works seemed to be for viewing, for enjoyment. the crazies just went off and did theyre thing, putting them in a museum doesnt make them art in the usual sense of the word. Ive forgot the name of a document that was shown on yle(the public broadcast channel) not too long ago about "art" made by asylum inmates, good stuff

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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 02:40:14 AM »

If we look from viewers perspective, I guess outsider art will remain truly outsider only for some time. When moment comes that "outsider" gets appreciated and praised everywhere, especially after he has already died... Does it change the nature of art itself?

Question would be:
Is outsider art definition from artists point of view or audience point of view? I think it would be foolish in first place to assume outsider art is at all based on "success", perhaps even posthumous success.

The classification has to be based on the audience. If it were based on the artist's view... well, you can already see that kind of blasphemy all over. People consciously playing on the fringes for the sake of "credibility". Not much different from wannabe rappers who have to invent ghetto credibility. "All of this cool art comes from isolated freaks, so I need to lock myself away" = "50 cent got shot in the face... hey, will you shoot me?". Because this is based on audience perception, as it gets more attention and gets co-opted by a larger audience, it becomes regular old art catering to a wide range of people. So yes, audience does change the nature of the art itself in my opinion, and how often do you really know an artist's true intentions? Van Gogh didn't get much credit during his lifetime, either....maybe Darger was a predatory genius who thought "how can I one-up that faggot Van gogh?" Not likely, but it's funny....

Quote
When works done by person who created his works, outside typical art scene enviroment /art institutions, for his own obsessive needs, it is outsider in original meaning of term. Does for example nature of noise change when it's known by 6 people who have rough tape and its underground, and suddenly 1000 people know same material and it changes its nature to hip & accessible? Material was still created under same methods and motivations, which should be what defines it material itself.

This is a good point, but I still think it does change the nature of the product. If a release is limited to six on purpose, but it's re-issued to a thousand copies, the entire intention and scope of the release changes. It's now catering to a larger audience, even if that wasn't always true. If it were limited to six because six (or fewer) people gave a shit, then it's just a product of circumstance and I don't see how that makes something farther "outside" than a similar idea that gets instant popularity because of circumstance.


Quote
I think in Finland, there is situation similar to "everywhere else". Where there is the real art scene. High profile established galleries, museums and artist. And there is no business with anyone with any offensive, unusual or low level art. But then as alternative, there is obviously alternative option, with low level galleries, alternative spaces.. exhibitions happening in certain bars or venue, and so on. And it's hard to really call member of some scene as "outsider". Or at least not all of them. Being self taught, being outside of mainstream, they still create large relatively homogenous micro society, where people aren't outsiders.

"Two's a crowd" definitely applies.


Quote
Rather than outsider art, I would find more supportable terms perhaps TRANSGRESSIVE ART, SUBVERSIVE ART, ANTI-SOCIAL ART, etc.. Of course almost equally vague, but...

Those other terms you mentioned are still vague, like you said, but I think they're way less problematic than the entire nature of "outsider" art, which is based entirely on "in-group" politics (i.e. audience). If some nerd who gets picked on in high school suddenly gets invited to all the best parties and starts getting laid every day, can you really say, "he was an outsider back then, so that means he's still an outsider"? Though he hasn't changed as a person, his circumstances have changed the way he's perceived. Once again, I think audience dictates the classification and it can and does change over time.

Are children outsider artists because they would rather draw out their awkward childhood obsessions? In third grade this black kid had me draw a picture of a fat couple having sex, and I didn't know how to draw a vagina, so the dick was just going into this giant black hole in her upper-pelvis. I hid it in my desk and didn't show it off, but the teacher found it anyway much to my embarrassment. I wasn't an "outsider" then, and I don't think that just because someone maintains a similar childhood naivety throughout an isolated adulthood, they are any more of an "outsider" than I was at age 9.
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« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2010, 03:22:20 PM »

"All of this cool art comes from isolated freaks, so I need to lock myself away"

But this also functions nicely as a definition of true art. Where the artist - or whatever you want to call the poor dupe - is consumed (and inevitably spat out) by his art. This may seem a far cry for the "rugged individual" type artist we all aspire to represent, but I don't see much difference. What I do see is a lot of confusion and mixed signals, re- where one is really coming from. As a consumer, I'll take your word for it, and give you the benefit of the doubt... but will you extend yourself that same luxury?
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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2010, 09:52:39 PM »

I have attended an exhibition of him in Lugano (CH) in the 90's. I wasn't prepared for that, especially for the small penises attached to the paper dolls.
Something like this would be illegal in Italy.
I intended to add a huge Darger tribute poster inside the anticitizen cover artwork, but since the concept developed into something more "anti-cops" lunacy I have aborted the idea.

Possibly the most intense "art brut" exhibition I have witnessed to.
The story behind the discovering hof his artwork amazed me. This bum living of almost nothing and wasting his days inside/outside dodgy cafes was much more exciting than any self-styled decadent bohemien.
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