Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Staff Picks #3: "In the Realms of the Unreal"

For the third edition of Staff Picks, Rachel Evans is our recommender. Rachel is a Graduate Library Assistant at Lewis Library, currently working towards a master in Library Science from Florida State University. Rachel is also a graduate of LaGrange College, with a double B.A. in Art and Music. For her first Staff Picks, Rachel has chosen two titles from the collection.

The first is Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal, by John Monroe MacGregor. This book can be found on the third floor of the library, in the oversized book section using the call number, NX512 .D377 Z83 2002. Here's what Rachel had to say about this book:
For those who love art books and weird outsider artists, this is an excellent choice! This large art book is filled with countless drawings and other works by the late Henry Darger, an artist whose works are truly unique, at times expressing the whimsical fantasies of the artist who created characters which kept his mind company throughout the lonely years of his reclusive life.
The second item is a related DVD from the library collection titled In the realms of the unreal: the mystery of Henry Darger. Directed by oscar-winner Jessica Yu, this film masterfully employs animated sequences in this intriguing documentary to bring to life the enchanted world of a most eccentric artist. Check out this item, DVD ND237 .D37 I5 2005.
This is an excellent documentary that explores the strange world of Darger, an artist you certainly won't hear about in your art history class!

For those whose curiosity has been perked up by this post, here's a little more information about the artist: Henry Darger was an elderly recluse who spent his childhood in an asylum for feeble-minded children, and his adulthood working as a lonely janitor. When he died in 1973, Darger left “300 paintings and 30,000 pages of writing, including his magnum opus — The Realms of the Unreal, a 15-volume, 15,000-plus-page illustrated novel on which he had apparently been working since 1909... Central to the novel are the Vivian Girls, seven blond Kewpie doll-like heroines who are the sweet-souled, ferocious leaders of the Child Slave Revolt… That his little girls…display male genitalia makes Darger’s vision all the more unnerving” (John Anderson, Newsday).

Interested in learning even more about Darger? Check out these helpful links:
Official website
St. Etienne Galleries - the gallery that handles all of Henry Darger's work.
Henry Darger fanpage
Realm of the Unreal: A page about Henry Darger
Henry Darger images at the Hammer Gallery
An essay on Henry Darger's work
Wellspring Website
American Folk Art Museum. Home of the Henry Darger Study Center and Darger artwork in permanent collection.

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