New York

Henry Darger

Andrew Edlin Gallery

Henry Darger might seem the epitome of the outsider artist, a loner-next-door type who spent endless hours in his dilapidated house, creating a strange and brilliant masterwork that would only be discovered after his death in 1973: hundreds of illustrations and more than fifteen thousand densely typed pages of narration depicting the sagas of the “Realms of the Unreal,” in which brave and beautiful prepubescent girls are enslaved by a band of craven elders, the Glandelinians, led by the evil Glandelinian general, John Manley.

Yet Darger’s work itself points up the limits of his ostensible categorization. More than most obscure talents, he bears comparison with hermetic visionaries including William Blake and Franz Kafka, or even the mystics of the Middle Ages (an association which may have especially pleased or embarrassed the artist, a daily attendee of Catholic Mass). This status is

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