Lately, I’ve been thinking about Henry Darger. He was a man who lived in near seclusion, and made his living as a janitor. It was only after he died that people discovered he had spent his life writing and creating visual art. He made another world for himself and created an entire cast of characters (the Vivian Girls). There is a fantastic documentary on Darger called Realms of the Unreal–that’s how I was first introduced to him and his work. What I find myself lingering over is the fact that Darger had the impulse to create without the desire to bring attention to his creation. While he was alive, no one was aware of the artistic output that was happening in his home. I wonder if that means the work came from a more authentic place? When one creates for the sake of creating—is a slave to that creative impulse—and creates without compulsion to share the creation or bring attention to the creation (and creator), does that make the act more pure (because there aren’t any ulterior desires motivating the act…money, fame, aspiration etc.)? I don’t think I’m phrasing the question/idea properly. It’s not so much that one way is pure/authentic and one way isn’t, but when an artist chooses to keep his work to himself, and is very prolific in that work…isn’t that different than someone who seeks recognition for their work? Doesn’t that imply a different sort of motivation?
Maybe it’s the difference of how one identifies himself/herself. If one does not view himself/herself as an “Artist,” then perhaps one is not going to think his/her work is worth anything, and not think of it as something worth sharing.