There was an undiscovered American artist, an “Outsider” who the world knew nothing of until after his death. Henry Darger was an anti-social man, who suffered greatly, and on his death his art was discovered to be nothing short of earth-shattering, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of its meaning.
Like any artist, knowing their life story makes one appreciate the art they created. Knowing the tortured soul that created so many works of art, then cut his ear off, then died by suicide, somehow makes us all understand and love van Gogh’s art. Henry Darger is one such an artist. Based on what few interactions he had with people, it is understood that he was queer, but never was able to make friends, or maintain relationships. As a solitary recluse in a Chicago apartment he created epics, while in a nursing home shortly before he died, his landlord discovered his art.
Henry Darger wrote epic works of literature, poetry, and multi medium art, telling a vivid beautiful story. This story was so powerful, that inscribed on his headstone was simply “Protector of Children”. His works are themed of children fighting crusades against abusive adults, embracing imagery of the original crusades and Napoleonic images.
French Electronic musician Philippe Cohen Solal decided to pay tribute to Darger by putting some of his poetry to music, and collaborating with other artists making videos on the concepts from his paintings.
The project is called “Outsider” with Adam Glover singing the poems. They reach you with a child like innocence, and though they often touch on painful and violent topics, they are the songs you would have happily sung as children.
I was able to interview Philippe Cohen Solal, and decided to air the podcast on Darger’s birthday, Today, April 12th. I hope there is something for you in this podcast. I know if I tried to write up the interview per usual, I would never do it justice.
Rest In Peace, and thank you Henry Darger.
April 12 1892 – April 13 2973.