OAF Talks

Henry Darger: 40 Years Later

New York 2014

Henry Dager (1892-1973), 18 At Norma Catherine. But wild thunderstorm with cyclone like wind saves them, Chicago, IL, mid-twentieth century, 19.12 x 47.75 in, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, and carbon tracing on pieced paper.
Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, museum purchase, 2002.22.2A
Copyright Kiyoko Lerner, photo by James Prinz.


This Anne Hill Blanchard symposium is sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum, New York.

Organized and moderated by Valérie Rousseau, curator, art of the self-taught and art brut, American Folk Art Museum

Michael Bonesteel, art historian, adjunct assistant professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, author of Henry Darger: Selected Art and Writings (Rizzoli, 2000)
James Brett, The Museum of Everything, London
Jim Elledge, professor of English, Kennesaw State University, author of Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy. The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist (Overlook Press, 2013)
Jane Kallir, co-director, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, independent curator, and author of publications on Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Grandma Moses

Our panelists will discuss their new studies on Henry Darger (1892–1973) and offer innovative avenues to understand this complex oeuvre. Where do we stand 37 years after The Realms of the Unreal at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago – the first exhibition that publicly revealed his works and preceded dozens of international shows? What main conclusions emerged after the seminal contribution of John MacGregor (starting with “I See a World within the World: I Dream but Am Awake,” Parallel Visions, 1992)? Fifteen years after his first publication on Darger (2000), Michael Bonesteel will present his upcoming project (2015), which consists of a reordering of selected key episodes and extended passages from the Realms of the Unreal, that will relate major highlights of the 15,000-page saga. James Brett will explore the iconography and sources for sections in Darger’s artworks. Jane Kallir will approximate the chronological sequence in which Darger created his artworks, how they relate to his writings, and his overall development. Jim Elledge will underline aspects of Darger’s life as outlined in his recent book, specifically on the twelve-year-old Darger’s confinement to the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children.

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