Cocker On Darger

In addition to his unique musical and lyrical talents, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker has always demonstrated a wonderful eye for the visual arts, working with greats like John Currin and Peter Saville on the artwork for This Is Hardcore (Currin's paintings also appear in the beautiful video for Help the Aged). Cocker is also an avid admirer of outsider art, or what the French call art brut, including perhaps the most famous self-taught artist, Henry Darger.

Darger's work is incredible in many respects, including its prefiguring of the techniques and imagery of pop art that would seem so revolutionary decades later. But what truly sets Darger apart from all of the other great artists is the size and scope of his work, which includes not only countless images, but also volumes and volumes of methodically told tales of imaginary lands and wars that accompany the images.

Darger and his work are the subject of the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal, which was just released on DVD. In speaking about the man and the film in today's Observer, Jarvis notes:
My attitude to his work has changed considerably since I have had children of my own. They are children's illustrations gone horribly wrong. I used to think that was funny but now I'm slightly more disturbed when I look at his work. I guess we are all more concerned with representations of children nowadays but there is certainly something a little creepy about his work. It appears to be incredibly free, but, in some ways, it's almost like a work of self-medication. Many so-called outsider artists seem to sedate themselves by creating incredibly intricate and symmetrical paintings over and over. Darger certainly did that obsessively.
You can read the full story here.


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