United States of America, 1892 - 1973
Henry Darger was born in Chicago. He lost his mother when he was four years old and he was raised by his father, who inspired him to read Jules Verne and other adventure fiction authors. In 1900 his father was taken to an institution for elderly people and Darger was sent to a Catholic orphanage, where he attended local school. Described as a peculiar and difficult child, Darger was later admitted to Illinois asylum for feeble-minded children from where he escaped at the age of sixteen. On his return to Chicago, he was hired for a position of janitor and plumber in a Catholic hospital that he would keep until his retirement. Darger lived an extremely solitary life. Upon his retirement in 1963, his last landlords Kiyoko and Nathan Lerner, discovered the artist’s autobiography with more than two thousand pages, as well as his fictional work comprising more than fifteen thousand pages – In the Realms of the Unreal. The novel narrated a story of the Vivian Girls, princesses fighting for the cause of all children enslaved by adults. In the Realms of the Unreal was inspired by the American Civil War narratives and other grand battle and adventure texts. Darger often incorporated events and characters from his own life into his fiction. His works were accompanied by several hundreds of large scale illustrations. He used carbon tracing, watercolours and graphite to execute his drawings. Darger gathered popular culture images, together with battle scenes reproductions and illustrations, and then used a photographic enlarger to manipulate the scale of his characters and scenes. The Henry Darger room is now located at the INTUIT Museum in Chicago and a large part of his works are kept at the Henry Darger Study Center of the American Folk Art Museum.