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Henry Darger

 
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kris



Joined: 02 Feb 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:04 pm    Post subject: Henry Darger Reply with quote

Was reading a book of Spiegelman interviews last night and in one interview he talks a little about a guy I'd never heard of before, Henry Darger. I'm so excited to learn about this guy, been spending my free time this morning looking him up on the internet. On part four of this documentary right now. He was a reclusive janitor that made a lot of amazing art and wrote stories that know one knew about until after his death.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PMBVxJnoPw

( Edit: I think i mixed the name up with harvey danger.. sorry, Henry, not Harvey.)
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1323

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henry Darger is pretty amazing... I heard about him in college because somebody told me about this guy who "wrote the longest book ever" and then I saw some of his art and I thought it was really cool and weird.
When the documentary came out I saw it in a small theater in NYC and I thought it was really moving. Such a strange sad story. I had poster of the movie on my wall in my Brooklyn apartment for many years but I left it behind when I moved!
Some people don't like the way they animated his art in the movie, but I think the movie was well done.
I've never actually read any parts of his book - and I don't own any books or prints of his art - I just like looking at it if I see it somewhere. I know there's some good books that collect some of his art and sometimes some of his writing. I don't think there's actually any edition that exists of his complete giant novel, there's probably almost nobody who has even read the whole thing - I think it's about 20,000 pages long or something like that!
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Michael



Joined: 18 Nov 2005
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"If Henry Darger's your dad say yeah!"

Don't know Darger's work, but love the Tri-Lambs song!
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1323

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah, I forgot about the Tri-Lambs song!
I miss the Tri-Lambs!!!
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kris



Joined: 02 Feb 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I was a little put off by the animation.. well maybe not put off, but I at least remember thinking it was kind of odd that they did that. But so far, (haven't finished it yet, going to get back to it after I type this) I think it's great. I like hearing his neighbors' take on him and the stories about him up in his room having conversations with himself. It's kind of amazing that he died completely alone and undiscovered, I wonder how much different his life would have been if he had become this great successful artist while he was still alive.. and also, because he was so alone and deprived of love and nurture his entire life, I wonder who he would have been without his art.

Anyway, you guys may have already had a discussion about him on here, if that's the case, sorry for being redundant. I've posted a few things in the last couple of weeks thinking I was making some great new discovery only to find that of course everyone here already knows about it because Jeff has mentioned it in a song/covered it. =P I heard Cult boyfriend for the first time last week and kind of felt like a dope for posting about Cerebus on here. If I seem like an obnoxious fangirl I apologize, but not because I'm not(by definition, I probably am) but for being so (unintentionally) obvious.
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jefflewis



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 1323

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No need to be self-conscious, I'm a total Cerebus poseur, any real Cerebus fan would call me out instantly (if they wanted to feel cooler than me, that is!)!
I just sang it in the song because I liked the way it rolled off the tongue, there's a lot of other "cult" comic books I could have mentioned. In fact I totally didn't even make a connection between the song and the Cerebus discussion here.

Have you finished the Darger movie yet? I don't remember if they talk about how the work got famous, that's always something weird to think about, the path that something takes to go from unknown to known after the artist dies. Like, how long after Van Gogh died did his art begin to be considered among the highest possible art, after being ignored in his lifetime? I once read a bit about the process that Kafka's writing went through after he died, who recommended it to who, and which influential people had to praise it before it began to be considered high literature... this is a really interesting process. It's like watching ice or snow melt, certain small things happen and sometimes a bigger event, until the inevitable full transformation becomes huge and unstoppable. With art it can even eventually reverse itself again, an artist can be unknown in his or her own life, then famous 100 years afterwards, and then 200 years afterward things can fall completely out of favor and out of print and disappear.
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kap



Joined: 08 Feb 2011
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had never heard of Henry Darger until reading this thread, and so have been taking a look. His artwork is incredible! The luminous quality of the colours, the images have an almost tapestry like quality (at least when viewed on-line), what an other world he inhabited. I think the documentary may take some effort though as I am not immediately taken with the style of narration, I would be really interested to read some of his wordage. I wonder what would have become of his life's work should it have been discovered by house clearance and not a perspicacious photographer. Speaking of Kafka, I read recently that in the long running dispute regarding rightful stewardship of some of his original works, it was proposed that the papers should be sold by their weight, an intriguing way to determine value, but one which would at least ensure that Dargers' prolific output reach a premium. 'Discovering' his work reminds me of all the gems of out of print children's books we have been chancing upon at car boot sales these past couple of years, many with the most enchanting illustrations which seem to have been long forgotten by the publishing houses in favour of the dreaded brand book, suspect Darger's work may have been consigned to the 'Outside Over There'/ 'Chicken Licken' pile however had they have ever been printed for fear of creating too many sleepless nights. Had been wondering about ways of bringing certain titles back, availability beats obscurity, sure someone must be on to this.

Whilst thinking about posthumous (post-posthumous ?) fame, Bryter Layter was dug out at the weekend, I'd forgotten how much I adore Nick Drake, this is such a beautiful album and at least I can listen to this one without becoming overly pensive!
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kris



Joined: 02 Feb 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the documentary on youtube is up in like 8 parts, and it looks like some of the doc gets chopped off between each part, so I didn't exactly figure out how they first came to discover his art. I had to fill in some of the gaps on my own. I guess he got sick and while he was in the hospital his landlord went in to his room and saw his work, goes to visit him and tells him he really likes his art and Darger replies "Well, it's too late now, isn't it?" Which I guess maybe suggests that he might have entertained the idea of one day selling his stuff.

I think some of the voice over stuff (read by the little girl and by some older guy) are from Darger's writing, a lot about the Vivian girls going in to battle.. I haven't actually read any of his stuff, but I can imagine after about 2- 3000 pages it might get a little tedious, I'd be interested in reading some of it nonetheless.

It's kind of crazy to think that all of his artwork could have easily wound up in the dumpster had his landlord not been an artist himself. There's a cool book up on Amazon about him, but the lowest price a used copy is $400... which seems a little outrageous....
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kap



Joined: 08 Feb 2011
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an old link but the bookshop may be worth contacting, although the 'sets' will almost certainly be long gone. Sounds like an interesting project if I am interpreting correctly.

http://cool.conservation-us.org/byform/mailing-lists/bookarts/2002/03/msg00173.html
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kris



Joined: 02 Feb 2011
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Kap, I followed the link, but I don't really understand what the project is/was..? They sold the pages for 50 bucks, had each person bind their own copy and then had them all reunite for an exhibition? ... I followed the "Read the FAQ" link, but it was no longer valid. Eh. Maybe I'll find a copy of one at a Goodwill. =)
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