May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

The History of My Life

Henry Darger (1892-1973) Encoders

Chicago, Illinois 

c. 1968–1973

Ink, tape, and collage on paper and cardboard

Vol. I: 12 x 11 3/4 x 2 3/8"

Vol. VIII11 3/4 x 9 1/2 x 3"

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York Gift of Kiyoko Lerner, 2004.1.4

© Kiyoko Lerner

Photo by Gavin Ashworth

The History of My Life

Glued to the cover of volume VIII of Henry Darger’s The History of My Life is the upper left portion of Milton Glaser’s iconic 1966 poster for Bob Dylan’s 1967 Greatest Hits album.The poster, folded and inserted into the record sleeve, was among the first created by Glaser. It became one of the most widely distributed of all time, with over five million copies of the album sold. It emulates the psychedelic glitz of the flower power movement and its ideology of non-violence, which obviously caught Darger’s eye and spirit. Darger’s visual appropriation brings to mind the ghosts of his miserable childhood, as well as some pervasive elements of his vivid color artworks, like agitated clouds and explosions. Glaser explained that his illustration was inspired by French artist Marcel Duchamp’s well-known drawing Self-Portrait in Profile (1957). He similarly depicted Dylan in a dark silhouette profile and, drawing on his interest in the colors and curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau, transformed the singer’s halo of curly hair into a kaleidoscopic rainbow.

Valérie Rousseau, “The History of My Life,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.