“Outsider art” is an interesting term as it can pertain to art outside the confines of the well-trodden path of mainstream art and autodidactic artists that add another enriching facet dimension to the culturally sanctioned world of art as well as a questionable justification for less works that lack merit.
Henry Darger can be firmly placed in the first category and this opulently illustrated tome does not only portray his oeuvre but also elevated him to be a major protagonist of the current art scene.
Stating that Darger’s works are rooted in his own, characteristically peculiar fantasy world would be an understatement par excellence as it has become his trademark and anyone remotely familiar with some of his painting would be able to identify them as his from a long way off.
The book does justice to the at times disturbing scenarios that Darger creates, some of which are displayed in all their glory via foldout illustrations and gatefold. The works being embedded in essays that have been carefully curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Darger’s uniqueness is highlighted even further and light is shed on his use of religiously tinted agendas, the importance of his idiosyncratic use of abstract compositions and the frequent use of what has become his trademark duality between violence and innocence as well as the materials his used.
The book is nicely balanced and informed by an objective approach that does not lack welcome delicate criticism.
Having been a fan of Darger for the longest time, I was quite pleased to hold a book in my hands, which accentuated the artworks with the precision printing and colour palate and does justice to a man that is often misinterpreted and whose allure has always been heightened by being an enigma.
A gorgeous and solid compendium that should not be missed from any halfway decent art book agglomeration and one that not only signs the praises of the artist but put his work into perspective and contextualises it both historically as well as the art world.