James Castle (1899–1977) is an enigma. Entirely self-taught and born profoundly deaf in rural Idaho, where he spent his life, he never learned to speak or read. Making art was his life-long preoccupation and his main means of communication. Refusing to do farm chores, he retreated to his “studio,” first an unused chicken coop, later a trailer, to draw haunting landscapes, interiors, animals, people, and objects, adopting, first from necessity and later by choice, scavenged paper and home-brewed mediums.
Most mysterious are his hand-drawn “books” and “photo albums,” with their inexplicable letters and words. Some works are inventions; others reflect memories; still others are based on such random visual stimuli as ads, packaging, photos, or comic strips. Castle’s images and constructions — poetic, fantastic, naturalistic, or stylized, in monochrome soot and spit, and in color — allow us a glimpse into his silent world. Just as he was separated from his environment by his deafness, the originality and variety of Castle’s work sets him apart from many other self-taught artists.
Curated by Karen Wilkin, this exhibition surveys the full spectrum of Castle’s themes, from the well-known farmyards and interiors, to the less familiar “portraits” of house and machines, clothing and groups of geometric people, as well as some of his impenetrable books, plus ephemera, including rarely seen sources for his imagery. The breadth and depth of Castle’s many modes of working are revealed, affirming why he should be regarded simply as an American master, without qualification, albeit an elusive one.
New York Studio School (8 West 8th Street, New York)
Free and open daily to the public 10am-6pm.
January 29–March 4, 2018
James Castle is featured in the exhibition Outliers and American Vanguard Art
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, January 28-May 13, 2018
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, June 24-September 30, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 18, 2018-March 18, 2019
Some have compared her album art to John Collier’s 19th-century portrait of Lady Godiva, but Beyoncé can channel her radical spirit without evoking Western art history.
With a fresh Ethereum wallet ready to scoop up freebies, I attended the world’s largest conference dedicated to that controversial wart on the Zeitgeist, the “non-fungible token.”
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Hundreds of copies of the LA-based guerrilla poster artist Robbie Conal’s latest work, “Supreme Injustices,” were pasted up from Venice to Los Feliz.
This week, another reason to leave Facebook, who really invented democracy, and what is “Skimpflation”?
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Pope.L, Beatriz Cortez, Mika Rottenberg, and more.
The acclaimed composer and noise artist talks to Hyperallergic about his Pulitzer Prize-winning composition “Voiceless Mass.”
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
Her works, depicting objects from Korean markets, invite viewers to marvel at what can be achieved with fabric.
Salonen’s paintings point to a location in which reality is slippery, ill-defined — a dream or place of play.
The Ancient Egyptian tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, one of the most intricate in the Saqqara necropolis, shows the pair holding hands and embracing.