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October 25, 2004

Farewell, Mr. Darger

A tidbit garnered from my gallery hop last Friday...

Carl Hammer Gallery recently learned that last month's Henry Darger exhibit would be the last gallery show of his work on behalf of his estate. From what I could gather, Kiyoko Lerner (widow of photographer Nathan Lerner), who administers the estate, wishes to take a step or two back from the hubbub of the market to reassess the future of what remains of his body of work.

All told, Darger produced less than 300 illustrations to accompany his 15,000+ page text, including only 87 of the large tableaux that most of us are probably most familiar with. 30 works went to the Collection de l'Art Brut in Switzerland, 22 were sold in 2000 to the American Folk Art Museum in New York (along with most of the written material) to add to the four they already owned, and there are fourteen scattered locally between the Art Institute, the MCA, the Smart Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum (and more elsewhere, including several pieces reportedly accessioned by MoMA). And considering the fact that the Lerners have been selling his work since 1979, I'd imagine quality Dargers are in increasingly short supply. I would imagine (hope), too, that Kiyoko Lerner retains the desire to keep some remaining portions of the oeuvre intact. Perhaps there will be a push toward more museum acquisitions.

Although the Darger show ended a few weeks ago, a number of the works remain on display in Carl Hammer's upstairs space, where I'm told they'll stay through the end of the year. So pay a visit to the Vivian Girls while you can. Unless the Art Institute, the MCA or some inspired moneybags suddenly realizes what kind of local treasure we have in Darger, it may be some time before the war clouds of Jennie Richee darken the skies around these parts again (though, keep an eye trained on Intuit).

Books on Darger...:

The Old Man in the Polka-Dotted Dress: Looking for Henry Darger by C. L. Morrison
Henry Darger : Art and Selected Writings by Henry Darger and Michael Bonesteel
Darger: The Henry Darger Collection at the American Folk Art Museum by Brook Davis Anderson and Michel Thevoz
Henry Darger: Disasters of War by Henry Darger, Klaus Biesenbach and Kiyoko Lerner
Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal by John M. MacGregor

...and much, much more:

In the Realms of the Unreal, a feature documentary that premiered at this year's Sundance
Salon.com review of MacGregor's Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal
NYTimes: "Folk Museum Gets Works of a Self-Taught Artist" (Oct 4, 2000)
Art in America: "Thank heaven for little girls" (Jan 1998)
Chicago Tribune: "Henry Darger Moves Out" (December 17, 2000)

"Farewell, Mr. Darger"
Posted by Dan at 11:30 AM

Comments

The founder of the company where I work is a major collector of outsider art. There are a few Darger's hanging at the office. Just after I started working there, Christie's held its first Ousider auction - works from his collection: http://www.christies.com/promos/jan03/1183/promo_gallery.asp?page=10

Also mentioned here: http://www.artnewsonline.com/currentarticle.cfm?type=feature&art_id=1436

Posted by: Todd W. on November 2, 2004 at 07:52 PM



Referenced in this post:

American Folk Art Museum
Art Institute
Art in America: Thank heaven for little girls—Richard Vine
Brook Davis Anderson and Michel Thevoz: Darger: The Henry Darger Collection at the American Folk Art Museum
C. L. Morrison: The Old Man in the Polka-Dotted Dress: Looking for Henry Darger
Carl Hammer Gallery
Chicago Tribune: Henry Darger Moves Out—Leah Eskin
Collection de l'Art Brut
Henry Darger and Michael Bonesteel: Henry Darger : Art and Selected Writings
Henry Darger, et al: Henry Darger: Disasters of War
Iconoduel: Gallery Briefing—Henry Darger at Carl Hammer
In the Realms of the Unreal
Intuit: Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
John M. MacGregor: Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal
Milwaukee Art Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art
New York Times: Folk Museum Gets Works of a Self-Taught Artist—Roberta Smith
Realm of the Unreal: A Page About Henry Darger
Salon.com Books: 'Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal' by John M. MacGregor—Gavin McNett
Smart Museum of Art