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Henry Darger at Intuit

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January 20 – May 29, 2017

In the juxtaposition of Henry Darger’s art and writings, audiences can explore how the artist approached related subjects in different mediums. Surprising to many, Henry Darger created very few works of art that depict specific episodes from his epic novel, Realms of the Unreal.

For example, he made numerous captioned references to a fictional location called “Jennie Richee” in his artwork, but there are only occasional brief mentions of this place in the Realms novel. Nothing significant happened at Jennie Richee in the written story, yet there are dozens of scenes depicting events occurring at Jennie Richee in his art. Therefore, it seems likely that his art was an extension of, and an improvisation on, his writing—more than it was an illustration of it.

Similar examinations of Darger’s writings and artwork have been performed in scholarly essays but never presented in a museum or gallery setting where viewers can see an actual work of art next to a facsimile of a corresponding page of text. In fact, pages from the Realms are almost never exhibited except for the occasional display of a Realmsvolume from the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum, so it is a rare opportunity to see Darger’s art and read his words in one and the same viewing.

Also opening at Intuit on January 20 until March 26, Unreal Realms takes the world Henry Darger imagined in In the Realms of the Unreal and provides a view into the otherworldly places created in the artworks of Adolf Wölfli, A. G. Rizzoli, Charles A. A. Dellschau, Ken Grimes and Darger. The nature of these works, which often are described as “visionary,” call attention to their makers’ sensibilities and outlooks.

“The focus of this exhibit is to posit a group of artists, like Henry Darger, whose body of work was a narrative of an alternative reality,” said Jan Petry, who co-curated the exhibit with David Syrek.

756 N Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60642