Henry Darger

An art history teacher introduced me to the work of visionary artist Henry Darger my freshman year of college. Although this was four years ago, somehow his images have stuck in my head since and today I looked up his work again. To my surprise, I am still deeply moved by his work. My teacher showed us the wonderful documentary In The Realms of The Unreal, by Jessica Yu.

Henry Darger was a visionary artist; a mentally ill man who made drawings in the pits of his home for years without a single person seeing them. Upon his death, a vast collection of dark, wild and outlandish drawings came to the surface. Innocent at first sight, drenched in whimsical color, these intricate drawings are actually deeply disturbing. His congested compositions are tragic and cynical yet incredibly lyrical; beautiful portrayals of small girls in the midst of decapitation by blade plunging warriors.

Bursts of canary yellow, Prussian greens and Scarlet attack the otherwise buff page, bringing life to savage scenes of brutality. Nearly every piece is adorned with young girls, either nude or sporting school uniforms and sweet darling dresses. Always helpless, the children are tied up, tortured and subjected to execution, decapitation or hanging. The beauty of Darger's work is that it never fails to make your spine tingle, but you never know whether it is due to its disturbing nature or its sudden exquisiteness. Either way, Henry Darger is a visionary master that will forever haunt me.