Henry Darger’s artistic achievement is largely literary in conception. The masterful 15,000-page epic, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, was started when Darger was nineteen years old and finished many years later. Darger created an astonishing body of artwork to illustrate this manuscript: it is these fantastic single-sheet and panoramic multi-sheet watercolors, executed in lyrical hues, for which he is best known. These were originally bound into three volumes, and, as illustrations to a narrative, the imagery reflects themes of conflict, abuse of power, magic, redemption, and triumph that are contained in the story. In addition to In the Realms of the Unreal, Darger’s texts include its sequel, Further Adventures in Chicago: Crazy House; a six-volume weather journal; and an autobiography, all now in the museum’s holdings. The full breadth of Darger’s work was only discovered after his death by his Chicago landlord, artist and industrial designer Nathan Lerner.
Stacy C. Hollander, "At 5 Norma Catherine. but are retaken.," exhibition label for Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2012.