MoMA Makes Historic Acquisition of Thirteen Henry Darger Drawings

darger spangled

Henry Darger. Untitled (Spangled Blengins). Watercolor and pencil on paper. Gift of the estate in honor of Klaus Biesenbach. © 2011 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Museum of Modern Art has acquired a major group of drawings by Henry Darger (1892-1973), perhaps the best-known American self-taught artist of the 20th century. The thirteen double-sided drawings represent a wide range of Darger’s practices, and have been carefully selected from the remaining body of exceptionally important work still held by his estate. Although Darger was unrecognized as an artist during his lifetime, the impressive body of watercolors and writings he created are acclaimed by admirers and scholars of both mainstream and outsider art, and has been a source of inspiration for several generations of contemporary artists. The drawings are a gift of the estate of the artist in honor of Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at MoMA, who has organized exhibitions and produced publications of Darger’s work. The gift represents the largest acquisition by MoMA of work by a self-taught artist.