Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From Insider Art to Outsider Art

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.

3 comments:

Donn said...

Truth is always stranger than fiction.
This proves my view that it is virtually impossible to be recognised as an Artiste if you aren't completely starkers and DEAD!

andrea said...

Fascinating. Where are you getting this stuff? I'm going to be so disappointed when noplamonalisa is over and you're not posting daily.

Ellen said...

Donn- depressing ain't it. First one easily achievable, the second kind of counter productive.

Andrea- I have to see every art related documentary out there. I had a few others that tied in to this post but i gotta ration, guess you know by now I fell of the daily post wagon. oops.