Chicago — Chicago “outsider” artist Henry Darger’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, generating millions of dollars.
But according to a federal lawsuit filed last week, Kiyoko Lerner and her late husband Nathan Lerner are legally in possession of the reclusive artist’s watercolors, drawings, and extensive writings after he died in 1973. didn’t have the right.
According to the complaint, Kiyoko Lerner, Darger’s former landlord at Lincoln Park, does not legally own Darger’s work or its copyright.
The lawsuit also accuses Lerner of what it calls “anti-cybersquatting” by having a website titled “officialhenrydarger.com”. It provides information and a warning that “Images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted, or manipulated without the written permission of Kiyoko Learner.”
The lawsuit was filed in Cook Circuit Court earlier this year to determine Darger’s heirs. One potential heir, Kristen Sadowski, of Clarendon Hills, was appointed custodian of the Darger estate in May. That case is ongoing.
Darger as an artist was unknown during his lifetime. For about 40 years, he lived in his one-bedroom apartment on West his Webster Avenue. He was an eccentric lone wolf. Occasionally, neighbors on the stairs outside his apartment would hear voices that sounded as if Darger had invented guests and companions.
After Darger moved out in 1972, his secret life was revealed in a room cluttered with dozens of broken glasses, hundreds of his own watercolors, collages, and 15,000 pages of photographs in his trunk. became. I typed a fantasy novel titled “In the Realms of the Unreal”.
Mr. and Mrs. Lerner have long claimed that when Darger grew increasingly frail and moved out of his rented apartment and into a retirement home, Darger was willing to give them all the work. He died in 1973 at the age of 81 and was buried in a pauper’s grave. He never married and had no children.
Nathan Lerner asked if Darger wanted anything hidden from his room after he moved out.
“I don’t need anything in the room. It’s all yours. You can throw it all away,” Darger reportedly said.
Lerners got the piece. Since then, Darger has become one of America’s greatest outsiders and artists. Many of his works are in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York. The Art Institute of Chicago has several works. His one in Darger sold for about $680,000 at auction.
The federal lawsuit seeks, among other things, to grant the estate exclusive ownership of Darger’s copyrighted works and to return those works to the estate. I’m asking Lerner for a list of all Darger’s artwork to do.
Lerner could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Eric Kalnins, said on Monday that he has not yet had a chance to review the case with his client.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2022.)