The American Folk Art Museum has the largest collection of Henry Darger‘s work and currently are exhibiting Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger. Darger was an untrained artist living in Chicago whose life-work, In the Realms of the Unreal, was hidden until after his death in 1973. Realms tells the story of a child rebel army dubbed The Vivian Girls as they battle against their oppressors. The Walker screened the documentary on Darger’s life, In the Realms of the Unreal.
Darger compiled his work into phone books, and often created two sided pieces that exceeded 10′ in length. One of these large-scale works was featured in the exhibition Body Politics.
The new show at the Folk Art Museum positions Darger’s work next to 11 contemporary artists, one of them being Amy Cutler. I first encountered Cutler’s work in the exhibition Dialogues: Amy Cutler/David Rathman and quickly fell in love with her whimsical, yet sour drawings. Light-bulbs went a’flashing off in my head as I looked at Cutler’s young girls with their 20′ braided pony-tails next to Darger’s unsettling intersexed child-battalion.