Detail of Darger’s Sacred Heart: Explosion
Since his death in 1973, Henry Darger—the Chicago janitor and outsider artist who left behind hundreds of scroll paintings in his Lincoln Park apartment—has been the subject of numerous books and pop songs, a musical, a documentary, and, this year in Chicago alone, at least two art exhibitions and an avant-garde play. Another addition to that list: an orchestral score inspired by Darger’s eponymous diptych, Sacred Heart: Explosion, from the 33-year-old composer Jefferson Friedman. The piece, which makes its local début in a series of June concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, interprets elements of the paintings through sound: Darger’s “sacred heart,” represented by a hymn in the first half of Friedman’s score, erupts into a militaristic sonic blast by the end. “I hope anybody who goes to this concert knowing Darger’s work will walk out afterwards and just say, ‘Wow, that really sounded like Darger,’” Friedman says.
June 5, 7 at 8; June 6 at 1:30; June 8 at 3. $19-$119, D. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. 312-294-3000.
Photograph: Sacred Heart: Explosion, Henry Darger, Watercolor on Paper, N.D., 19” x 49” Copyright Kiyoko Lerner