Darger’s Resources

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United States - Painting , Collage , Drawing. The centerpiece of what may very well be one of the most remarkable and terrifying stories emerging from the art world of the last century, Henry Darger was an American self-taught artist who led a solitary and reclusive life as a janitor in a Chicago hospital.


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Little did people around him know that the man in charge of keeping the hospital hallways clean was also the secretive owner of an incredible talent hidden far from plain sight. Unfortunately, it was not until after his death that his unique and charming artistic productions were discovered. And he did all that in complete privacy whilst the world had no idea what was going on behind closed doors.

Michael Moon

Darger was born during the year of in Chicago, Illinois. As the Cook County records show, he was born at a home located at W. When Darger was about four years of age, his mother died from complications following a puerperal fever after giving birth to a daughter — a child that was subsequently given up for adoption, meaning that her brother spent the rest of his life without ever knowing his sister. John M. MacGregor, a well-respected art historian and psychologist who dedicated much of his career to collecting information in order to make an accurate biography of Darger, claimed that Henry had two other siblings that were born before him, none of the two he ever met.

Unfortunately, this all changed in when crippled Darger Sr. However, according to the aforementioned John M. MacGregor and his discoveries, the true diagnosis was actually self-abuse.

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Young Darger himself felt that much of his problem was being able to see through adult lies, an ability that he developed from a very early age. It did not allow him to have a normal, worry-free childhood that would serve him much better in the long run as far as mental health is concerned. Additionally, Henry was also rigorously disciplined by teachers and ganged up on by classmates. He went through a long phase of feeling compelled to make strange noises as well, a mysterious illness that may have been a result of a Tourette Syndrome.

A series of attempted escapes from the asylum finally ended successfully in the year of The traumatized year-old returned to Chicago and, with the help of his godmother who he did not saw for years at that point [4] , found employment in a Catholic hospital where Darger worked as a janitor until his retirement in the year of He worked as a janitor, attended church Mass daily and collected an incredible amount of trash from the street [6].

To outsiders, he seemed distant and strange as Darger lived in his own private universe that no one understood but him.


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His only close friend was a man called William Schloeder. However, before such a plan could be put in motion, William left Chicago sometime in the mids. There are some speculations that suggest the two had a romantic relationship, but these theories are not based on any solid proof.

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Webster Avenue in the Lincoln Park section of the city, a room that will be his sanctuary for the next 43 years. It was within these few walls that Darger wrote his massive tomes and created unique artworks that were inspired by the medieval way of forming manuscripts. The visual subject matter of these works ranged from idyllic scenes in various interiors and tranquil landscapes populated by children and fantastic creatures of all kinds and sorts.

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Darger's Resources. Notify me. Description Henry Darger was a hospital janitor and an immensely productive artist and writer. In the first decades of adulthood, he wrote a 15,page fictional epic, In the Realms of the Unreal.

Darger's Resources by Michael Moon

He spent much of the rest of his long life illustrating it in astonishing drawings and watercolors. In Darger's unfolding saga, pastoral utopias are repeatedly savaged by extreme violence directed at children, particularly girls. Given his disturbing subject matter and the extreme solitude he maintained throughout his life, critics have characterized Darger as eccentric, deranged, and even dangerous, as an outsider artist compelled to create a fantasy universe. Contesting such pathologizing interpretations, Michael Moon looks to Darger's resources, to the narratives and materials that inspired him and often found their way into his writing, drawings, and paintings.


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Moon finds an artist who reveled in the burgeoning popular culture of the early twentieth century, in its newspaper comic strips, pulp fiction, illustrated children's books, and mass-produced religious art. Moon contends that Darger's work deserves and rewards comparison with that of contemporaries of his, such as the "pulp historians" H.

Lovecraft and Robert Howard, the Oz chronicler L. Frank Baum, and the newspaper cartoonist Bud Fisher. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions Table of contents Preface ix Introduction 1 1. Darger's Book of Martyrs 25 2. Review quote "Moon transcends the conventional reading of Henry Darger as outsider artist or sexual deviant to focus on the ways he borrowed from the polyglot landscape of US working-class culture-from comics and film to advertisements and newspaper articles.

Moon argues that Darger provides us with the tools for thinking about working-class artists who produce without the tools and tutelage of elite arts institutions. We can all admire Moon's imperative to redeem Darger from the pathologizing interpretations of the past.