Yesterdays post had me thinking about value in art. Literally, the dollars and cents of it all. Contemporary art may establish much of it's value in intellectual.....oh god, I'm going to use the dreaded artspeak word....discourse, whereas outsider art, art made by the untrained and unknown often gets it's value from the stories of the artists lives.
One of those stories is Henry Darger, a reclusive janitor with a troubled childhood. He had no family, no friends and was most certainly mentally ill. For 50 years Darger wrote and drew obsessively in private. After Darger's death, his landlord discovered the extent of Darger's obsession, 30,000 densely handwritten pages. Among them was a 15,000 page meandering fantasy epic he entitled, "The Story of the Vivian Girls, In What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, as caused by the Child Slave Rebellion." 300 or so illustrations accompany the work. The images are appropriated from illustrations from printed advertising like the Coppertone baby. They are drawn on paper, painted with child watercolours. Darger was no great artist, but his obsessive world and disturbing life have made his larger paintings sell in the six figure range. He himself lived in poverty. The 2004 documentary based on his work and life, In the Realms of the Unreal is worth a watch, here's the trailer.