A friend of mine recently lent me a copy of Neil Strauss‘ Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead – a collection of snippets of interviews from an amazing assortment of musicians and actors (read if you can – it’s a treat). There’s a great excerpt with David Bowie (one of my all time favourite artists and favourite interviewees). At the end of the segment, he asks Neil if he’s seen a recent exhibition of one Henry Darger at the American Institute of Folk Art.
Curious, I had to find out more.
It turns out the Chicago based Henry Darger is widely regarded as being one of the most significant self-taught artists of the 20th century. After both his parents passing away at an early age, he was raised in a Catholic mission until escaping in his teens. He went on to work as a janitor for the rest of his life until dying a day after his birthday in 1973. His most noted work is In the Realms of the Unreal, a 15,145 page long epic story he wrote over the course of 60 years. The majority of the work is called 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 and centers on the theme of child slavery. What’s amazing is Darger was a self-taught artist, and the illustrations that accompanied the work are simply breathtaking. For more on Darger, go here, and scroll down to see more of his works.