Double sided Henry Darger illustrations to make $400,000?

Christie’s blockbusting outsider art sale on January 19 is to feature a large double sided work by outsider artist Henry Darger (1892-1973).

The piece is a pictorial accompaniment to Darger’s strange and unsettling 15,145 page masterwork The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.

Henry Darger Vivian

Henry Darger secretly worked on his masterpiece at his home in Chicago

By day Darger worked as a hospital janitor at St Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago. But during the evenings he returned home to work on his sprawling science fiction manuscript, illustrated with exquisite watercolours.

The story follows a group of child insurrectionists known as the Vivian Girls, who rise up against their adult masters. The illustrations are often disturbingly violent, but always beautifully executed.

Darger’s body of work was discovered shortly after his death by his landlord, the photographer Nathan Lerner – who knew straight away he’d found something extraordinary.

In the years since, Darger has achieved worldwide recognition. The record for his work at auction is $745,076, set for a piece called Titre in 2014.

One side of the piece offered in the Christie’s sale is titled (sic): At Jennie Richee, are chaced for long distance by Glandelinians with blood hounds.

The reverse is: At Jennie Richee, Escape down Aronburgs Run River through circle section in storm.

It’s valued at $200,000-400,000.

Other highlights of the sale include a sculpture by Nashville artist William Edmonson.

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