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Henry Darger

Intuit, founded in 1991 to celebrate the power of outsider art has become one of the leading institutions that curates, exhibits and promotes outsider art in the world. Henry Darger's work is core to their collection.

He was a janitor at a local catholic hospital in Chicago, and led a quiet existence as an outsider artist. He used found images from newspapers and books and deployed tracings to create a multi volume fantasy story about the Vivian Girls. Darger's landlords, Nathan and Kiyoko Lerner, discovered his work shortly before his death and shepherded his work to Intuit. Trope Collaborative was approached to create a catalog of Darger's work in their collection edited by Leisa Rundquist, associate professor at the University of North Carolina has focused on marginalized artists and their artistic practices.

Methods & Practices

Trope Collaborative worked closely with Intuit curators on the structure of the catalog. There were many images that documented fragments of larger compositions. After some analysis, the images were grouped together into specific image compositions. They were then stitched together with clear spaces between them to show how each image created a larger composition. This allowed for the details to be central, but to understand that they were part of a larger whole.

Impact & Outcome

A 28 page catalog was created that integrated textual and artifacts together to highlight the diversity of Darger's work and the process he used to create vibrant works. Key passages were highlighted creating a hierarchy of content for skimming or detailed reading. Special fractional ligatures needed to be created for artifact measurements. The catalog had spot gloss varnishes to protect and increase color saturation. 

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