By Michael Moon
Henry Darger (1892–1973) was once a health facility janitor and an immensely effective artist and author. within the first a long time of maturity, he wrote a 15,145-page fictional epic, within the nation-states of the factitious. He spent a lot of the remainder of his lengthy existence illustrating it in surprising drawings and watercolors.
In Darger's unfolding saga, pastoral utopias are many times savaged by way of severe violence directed at young ones, fairly women. Given his demanding material and the extraordinary solitude he maintained all through his lifestyles, critics have characterised Darger as eccentric, deranged, or even harmful, as an intruder artist pressured to create a fable universe. Contesting such pathologizing interpretations, Michael Moon seems to be to Darger's assets, to the narratives and fabrics that encouraged him and infrequently came upon their method into his writing, drawings, and work.
Moon reveals an artist who reveled within the burgeoning pop culture of the early 20th century, in its newspaper comedian strips, pulp fiction, illustrated children's books, and heavily produced non secular paintings. Moon contends that Darger's paintings merits and rewards comparability with that of contemporaries of his, equivalent to the "pulp historians" H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Howard, the oz. chronicler L. Frank Baum, and the newspaper cartoonist Bud Fisher.
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Extra info for Darger’s Resources
They function in the same way that the many paintings-within-paintings and pictures-within-pictures in Darger’s visual work do, as sites and moments of transition between mistaking a given painting or passage of his writing for something (or some place) entirely real or entirely unreal. ” Darger’s apparent ability to recognize, and his willingness to acknowledge, that at least some other people may find him or at least some of his behavior strange and even crazy bespeaks a lucid self-awareness that seems to me to belie any assumption that his work is best understood as solely a means of escape for him from social oppression or psychic pain.
Even small Catholic congregations labored to make their altars splendid with polychrome statues, candles, flowers, linen, and lace, to give themselves a foretaste of their communities’ vision of heavenly glories, and many church members erected little altars and shrines at home or at school. Henry Darger was in many ways an entirely typical participant in this densely materialized devotional culture. He collages holy-card images of the Sacred Heart and various manifestations of the Virgin Mary into some of his drawings, and he organizes some of his narratives around special rituals such as the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament in Benediction or the Forty Hours devotion.
Even without the lexical nudge, it might have been hard for us not to feel that there was something sissyish (we didn’t yet know the word “priggish”) about Tarsicius’s unyielding piety—as well as about his death at the hands of a mob of bullies. ) So much of childhood bravado and self-respect depends on at least sometimes disobeying one’s mother’s orders not to allow oneself to be waylaid in the performance of one’s errands that it may have been hard for us not to see Tarsicius’s story as one that had been chosen to please not us, but the mothers and nuns who were our taskmasters.