Darger Discoveries will feature several newly available, emblematic works from the self-taught master’s oeuvre that have been shown in important exhibitions in the U.S. (including Disasters of War, PS1/ MOMA), Europe and Japan. They include double-sided, panoramic drawings of groups of idyllic and oddly foreboding Blengins, little-girl incarnations. Brilliant saturated colors of tangerine, azure blue and saffron bring to life the parachute-sized butterfly wings in Untitled (going out of shelter). Surrounded by succulent, pop-colored flowers, these spectacular drawings feature many of the signature Darger figures that he formed his characters and many of his motifs. Collaged images from magazines combined with an exquisite handling of color and composition make these some of his greatest masterpieces.
One of the definitive giants in the outsider art field, Darger, working in self-imposed isolation, conceived and wrote In the Realms of the Unreal, an epic fantasy of good versus evil, which he illustrated over many years in a technically innovative and thematically complex series of mixed-media drawings and
collages on paper. Darger’s imaginary world and the story that unfolds within it feature such vivid characters as the virtuous Vivian Girls; the child-enslaving Glandelinians; and the sometimes benevolent, sometimes ominous Blengiglomeneans, or Blengins—large, winged creatures with curled horns that occasionally take human form. Darger’s work has become increasingly recognized internationally, winning praise from critics, art historians, curators and collectors for the originality and prescience his of his vision.
Coinciding with this presentation, the exhibition Darger-ism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger at the American Folk Art Museum in New York (April 15-September 21) will be on view. Since his death in 1973, His work has been particularly inspiring for a new generation of contemporary artists who appreciate Darger’s integration of pop-cultural sources such as children’s coloring books, comics, and Catholic-biblical imagery, all antecedents of today’s postmodernist, appropriationist tendencies.