Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Henry Darger

Thanks to an exceptional donation by the heirs of the artist, 45 works by Henry Darger were added to the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne in 2012 and 2013. The ensemble of works was displayed for the first time in the exhibition Henry Darger at the Museum in 2015. Restoration has brought out the best qualities of Darger’s creations.

Over the course of his life, Henry Darger secretly produced a huge body of literary work and paintings: a novel of more than 15,000 pages. The Story of the Vivian Girls in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (the title is abridged here to The Story of the Vivian Girls in the Realms of the Unreal), occupied him for almost 30 years (from the beginning of the 1910s to the end of the 1930s). This epic, which takes place on an imaginary planet, relates an interminable war that started with a rebellion of children held as slaves by the wicked Glandelinians. The nation of Abbieannia takes up the fight against the Glandelinians with the help of other Christian nations such as Angelinia. In parallel with this, after finishing the novel, Darger retold his saga in paintings. The Vivian Girls were the heroines. In his first period of painting (1915 to about 1930). He painted portraits of the various protagonists (war generals, Blengins, flags, etc.). His second period (from about 1930 to 1972) consisted of vast narrative panoramas on both sides of the paper (recto-verso, principally in order to save paper). Darger realised these using images from popular culture (newspapers and comic books), which he traced and rearranged in an infinite number of variations.