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A VENEER OF FANTASY: THE HENRY DARGER COLLECTION OF KIYOKO AND NATHAN LERNER

Henry Darger
RECTO: 31 AT JENNIE RICHEE HARD PRESSED DURING STORM PERSUEING ENEMY THEY BECOME LOST IN CAVERN OF VOLCANIC MT SOOTREEMIA. CAVERN AT SECTIONS STRANGELY LIGHTED BY MYSTERIOUS SOURCE. SOLDIERS IN DISTANCE CLOSING IN ON LITTLE GIRLS. VERSO: AT JENNIE TURMER. ESCAPING FROM PERSUEING FOES BY SWIMMING ACROSS A VERY WIDE RIVER. ARONBURG'S RUN. AT ANGELMIC OGATHA. VIVIAN GIRLS HELP KINDERNINE. HANSON TO CAPTURE A GLANDELINIAN ON AFTER A HARD CHASE. ARROW INDICATES SPY. 
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 608,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
161

A VENEER OF FANTASY: THE HENRY DARGER COLLECTION OF KIYOKO AND NATHAN LERNER

Henry Darger
RECTO: 31 AT JENNIE RICHEE HARD PRESSED DURING STORM PERSUEING ENEMY THEY BECOME LOST IN CAVERN OF VOLCANIC MT SOOTREEMIA. CAVERN AT SECTIONS STRANGELY LIGHTED BY MYSTERIOUS SOURCE. SOLDIERS IN DISTANCE CLOSING IN ON LITTLE GIRLS. VERSO: AT JENNIE TURMER. ESCAPING FROM PERSUEING FOES BY SWIMMING ACROSS A VERY WIDE RIVER. ARONBURG'S RUN. AT ANGELMIC OGATHA. VIVIAN GIRLS HELP KINDERNINE. HANSON TO CAPTURE A GLANDELINIAN ON AFTER A HARD CHASE. ARROW INDICATES SPY. 
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 608,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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Henry Darger
1892 - 1973
RECTO: 31 AT JENNIE RICHEE HARD PRESSED DURING STORM PERSUEING ENEMY THEY BECOME LOST IN CAVERN OF VOLCANIC MT SOOTREEMIA. CAVERN AT SECTIONS STRANGELY LIGHTED BY MYSTERIOUS SOURCE. SOLDIERS IN DISTANCE CLOSING IN ON LITTLE GIRLS. VERSO: AT JENNIE TURMER. ESCAPING FROM PERSUEING FOES BY SWIMMING ACROSS A VERY WIDE RIVER. ARONBURG'S RUN. AT ANGELMIC OGATHA. VIVIAN GIRLS HELP KINDERNINE. HANSON TO CAPTURE A GLANDELINIAN ON AFTER A HARD CHASE. ARROW INDICATES SPY. 
double-sided watercolor, graphite and carbon tracing on 3 joined sheets of paper
19 by 72 1/8 in. 48.3 by 183.2 cm.
Executed circa 1940-1960.
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

Literature

John M. MacGregor, Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal, New York 2002, cat. no. 7.10, pp. 362-363, illustrated in color
Andrew Edlin, Sound and Fury: The Art of Henry Darger, New York 2009, p. 40, illustrated in color
Klaus Biesenbach, Henry Darger, New York 2014, p. 132, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

This exquisite watercolor is one of the most haunting examples within Henry Darger’s oeuvre.  Set in a cave, the Vivian girls, the protagonists of his 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, referred to by scholars as The Realms, are escaping from the Glandelinians.  Darger brilliantly embodies the scene with dread, as the viewer’s first impression is of the naked silhouettes of the Vivian girls protected in the cave’s shadows while they are surrounded by sharp stalactites. Looking closer, the minute, pursuant figures of the brutal Glandelinians are not far behind them.  It is this interplay of light and darkness, young and old, vulnerable and hardened, peace and war, good and evil that Darger excels at presenting in this enthralling painting.

Throughout The Realms, Darger places the Vivian girls frequently finding their way into various caves.  Surprisingly, Darger very rarely depicted the setting in his watercolors.  Remarkably, the subsequent compositions to this work are known.  The first is titled 32 At Jennie Richee. Trapped in lighted part of the cavern they try to elude Glandelinians surrounding them (Andrew Edlin, Sound and Fury: The Art of Henry Darger, New York 2009, p. 28-29). Here, a few moments later in the story and the Vivian girls have been surrounded and their demise is imminent.  The second, 34 At Jennie richee. While fleeing remaining Glandelinians both they and the foe encounter Blengiglomenean creatures.  They are Shooting, not at the Blengiglomenean creatures (Klaus Biesenbach, Henry Darger, New York 2014, cat. no. 7.12, p. 308). John M. MacGregor, in his encyclopedic book Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal, surmises that “caverns unmistakably excited [Darger’s] imagination, inspiring astonishingly inventive portrayals of vast labyrinths extending deep into the bowels of the earth.”  Furthermore, “his drawings of this mysterious realm beneath the earth depict vast subterranean openings, glowing with luminous hues never before encountered in caves, in which children can wander as freely as in a dream” (John M. MacGregor, Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal, New York 2002, p. 361).

"The World needs a Narrative."
Henry Darger, 1950

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