Henry Darger is the creator of a dense, laboriously illustrated, 15,000 page epic detailing The Story of the Vivian Girls in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal. He created the work over the course of sixty years.
He never showed it to anyone.
Darger's paintings are singularly beautiful. They have something of the elegance of a Japanese wood-block, the scale and ambition of a Ruebens epic, and a naiveté that makes them at once charming and deeply upsetting.
He was a hermit, a recluse, with no social involvements to speak of. He lived with his art, gave it all of the time and money he could manage between his job as a hospital janitor, and his devoted practice of Catholicism.
I don't know why Darger made what he did, why he kept it to himself, why he chose to burrow into his imagination rather than seek the association of people. I don't know that he could have made other choices had he wanted to. But it lends a kind of purity to his work. It is a strange form of worship, some kind of saint-like religious ecstasy that flows from the pages of scribbled prose and thickly patterned illustrations. It's also the voice of a trapped and lonely man, desperate for companionship he would never know.
It's a beautiful voice. Sad, and defiant, and beautiful.