Henry Darger "A Story of Girls at War—Of Paradises Dreamed"
This event has ended.
Orphaned at an early age and sent to an asylum after being diagnosed as mentally deficient, Darger (1892-1973) lived a solitary life from his youth until his death at 81. During this time, he wrote an epic story and created great numbers of paintings. His paintings, which he produced continuously away from public scrutiny, were left to his landlord, Nathan Lerner, an artist in his own right and a central figure of the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Thanks to Lerner’s perceptive eye, Darger’s works were kept intact after his death. Since then, his works have been extensively studied and surveyed, and now reside in part in the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne. Recently, Darger has become a focus of growing interest and exhibitions of his works have been mounted at major museums throughout the world.
Though Darger created many images depicting cruelty, such as torture and genocide, this exhibition focuses on a different aspect of Darger’s world—images of paradise in which young girls innocently play. The exhibition showcases 15 paintings (*see note), including a large-sized collage made early in his creative life entitled "The Battle of Calverhine" and paintings used as story illustrations, along with about 30 smaller pieces depicting flags of imaginary kingdoms and fantasy creatures. Many of these works, which are on loan from the Lerner Collection, appear in Japan for the first time. This exhibition also traces the lonely life of Darger the creator through photos of the room where Darger resided, which give an idea of how he lived, as well as works by Nathan Lerner, who as Darger’s landlord gave the artist moral support while he was alive and strove to introduce the world to his genius after he died. In his work, Darger’s work encompasses a variety of issues -- war, peace, discrimination, the nobility of life -- issues identical to those faced by modern Japanese society. By introducing Darger’s work, we hope to provide an opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of life and the role of art.
(*some paintings have images on both sides, so a total of 24 images are on display)
Guided tour (in English/ tour will be given by a museum staff):
April 28 (Sat)
May 12 (Sat), 26 (Sat)
June 9 (Sat), 23 (Sat),
July 14 (Sat)
all at 2:30pm (approximately 30 mins)
[Image: Henry Darger; Copyright: Kiyoko Lerner]
From 2007-04-14 To 2007-07-16
Naive or normal?
Take a peak inside Henry Darger's mind
By C.B. Liddell
Special to The Japan Times
If Darger had been just a normal artist, then his pictures of flowers and girls, with the occasional atrocity, would be some great, pointless, ironic joke. It's the lack of a punch line that makes these absurd paintings truly moving ...
Girls, flowers, colorful creatures, horses, and adult men fighting under the sky filled with some solid clouds - once you step into the room, you step into Darger's world. Some girls have penises, others have goat horns growing from their heads. Their faces appear innocent, mindless, anxious, and some times suffering.
It first looks like an innocent fantasy world, then you realize some realistic cruelties happening there. What you see in his paintings is the reality that was perceived & processed in his mind. Did he ever expect that his world would be revealed to so many eyes in public?
There is something about unintentionally displayed art that is highly intriguing. Vierwers become witnesses of masterbation of the solitude artist that was supposed to be hidden.
It is very sinful, yet dangerously pleasurable experience to see such art works.
Found similarities with Michel Gondry's works.