ART: A LIFE OF BIZARRE OBSESSION

RECLUSIVE, HARMLESSLY MAD, HENRY DARGER CREATED A WEIRD SECRET SAGA THAT IS NOW BEING CELEBRATED AS OUTSIDER ART

For a few years now, "outsider art"--meaning the work of amateur artists with no access to the art world as a system--has been a rising vogue in America. Each winter a whole fair is dedicated to it in New York City, and there isn't a scribbling schizophrenic, crotcheting aunt or suburban obsessive constructing replicas of the Eiffel Tower from wooden toothpicks in his New Jersey basement who can be deemed altogether immune to discovery by dealers. There's no mystery about why this should be so, since a) the art market has run out of new "movements," while b) there has been...

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