Henry Darger

Fascinating Secret Collections Unearthed

Sometimes, there’s nothing more exciting than a secret. In the case of these secret collections — art, writings, and entire worlds — the inner obsessions of their creators and keepers have proven to be strangely beautiful and endlessly fascinating. We explored the works and private lives of secret artmakers and collectors, unearthing an otherness and uniqueness that we can’t seem to get enough of. … Read More

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10 Great Songs About Famous Visual Artists

Even reigning glam aliens have idols. Even top hip hop impresarios obsess over that one particular painting. There is no shortage of guitar strumming, rapping, and singing about art at large, but we’re keen on odes and tributes to specific heroes of art history. From David Bowie’s serenade to “Andy Warhol” to the Modern Lovers’ investigations into “Pablo Picasso” and why he “never got called an asshole,” here are a few notable tracks inspired by famous visual artists. Did we miss your favorite? Drop us a comment. … Read More

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Film on the Fringe: 10 Intriguing Outsider Art Documentaries

Jon Foy’s fascinating and unexpectedly personal documentary Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles hits DVD today. The film explores the strange urban mystery surrounding hundreds of tiles adorned with cryptic, metaphysical messages found across the U.S. and South America, which have perplexed people since the 1980s.

Other films have examined the unexpected and unrecognized genius, strange pathology, and obsessively creative works of outsider artists in similarly intriguing ways. Many of the documentaries themselves have taken a low-fi approach to their portrayal, creating a similar mood to the works being investigated. Others come from a straight documentary angle, but all are compelling portraits. Head past the break to check out other outsider documentaries that introduce some of art and music’s most expressive creatives on the fringe. … Read More

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Exploring the Work of 10 Mostly Misunderstood Artists

Today would have been Georgia O’Keeffe’s 124th birthday. As one of the first women to break into the male dominated scene, her contributions to 20th century art history are unquestionable. She mesmerized with her gorgeously surreal New Mexico landscapes and stark New York cityscapes, but, somehow, her name has become synonymous with vaginal flowers. This they were not. How unfortunate. To celebrate the misunderstood artist and her woes, we’ve rounded up a few incidents of misinterpretation from the lives of famed big shots, elder greats, and new, spunky contemporaries. Find out what Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers truly mean, why Francis Bacon really thrust a syringe into his subject’s arm, and why people who don’t get James Franco are “morons.” … Read More

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10 Novels That We Dare You to Finish

Peter Nadas’s novel Parallel Stories, which will be released this November, clocks in at well over 1,000 pages. In an interview with New York, the Hungarian author queried, “Why wouldn’t ­Musil, Mann, or Broch be my contemporaries?” In honor of his ambition,  we’ve compiled a list of 10 novels that could also function as doorstops if you decide to give up on them. Maybe you’ve tried to impress your friends by casually mentioning that you’re finally reading Proust, or you’re the annoying person on the train with the weighty tome in both hands, jostling into your fellow passengers because you can’t spare a free hand — whatever the reason, we salute you, foolhardy readers. Have any of you finished the following novels with ease? If so, let us know in the comments section. … Read More

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The 13 Most Amazing Outsider Artists of All Time

Folk art, Outsider art, Art Brut — no matter what you call it, the work of self-taught artists has been fascinating doctors, curators, and other artists for the past hundred years. Inspired by a vision, these artists are often driven by obsession to realize their ideas on found materials using makeshift methods that might seem illogical but end up leading to profound works of art. From the former slave Bill Traylor and orphaned Adolf Wölfli to the gifted savant George Widener and Baptist reverend Howard Finster, we’ve assembled the best of the bunch. Click through our gallery of images and let us know if there is anyone you would add to the mix. … Read More

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Mental Images: A View from the Outsider Art Fair

One of the most fascinating displays of self-taught, gifted, and mentally ill artists in the world, the Outsider Art Fair is a hidden treasure for the more curious members of the New York art world. Fair viewers roaming the aisles at last night’s preview included artists Charles LeDray and Tony Oursler, critics Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith, Artnews and Art in America editors Robin Cembalist and Lindsay Pollock, gallerist Jay Gorney, collectors Sue Stoffel and Eileen Cohen, and musician David Byrne. They came to be enchanted by the work of self-taught artists many of us already know, including Henry Darger, Bill Traylor, and Martin Ramirez, and wowed by new discoveries, such as the 100-year-old drawings of an anonymous patient at State Lunatic Asylum No. 3 in Missouri who’s now gaining recognition as The Electric Pencil. … Read More

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