James Castle: A Retrospective (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

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9780300137309: James Castle: A Retrospective (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

James Castle (1899 1977) never learned to speak, read, or write and left his native state of Idaho only once and yet he created a wide range of extraordinary works that resonate with much of 20th-century art. This book offers the first critical exploration of the many creative genres of this self-taught artist, who first came to notice in the 1950s and 1960s but has only recently been recognized by major museums.

 

Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 full-color reproductions and packaged with an original documentary DVD illuminating fascinating aspects of his life and art, this book examines Castle’s drawings, color-wash works, idiosyncratic cardboard and paper constructions, and word, sign, and symbol pieces. As a child he developed his favorite medium and method of working, mixing stove soot with saliva and applying this ink” with sharpened sticks and cotton wads to such found materials as product packaging and discarded paper. These everyday materials have given his works a singular, immediate, and appealing natural quality.

 

This engaging volume considers Castle’s remarkable art from a variety of perspectives, examining his life, modes of depiction, working methods and materials, and the visual poetry” of his text works.

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About the Author:

Ann Percy is curator of drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A POLEMIC UNDERPINS the conventional title of this extraordinary exhibition featuring some three hundred works spanning James Castle's career. Born deaf in 1899, the largely unschooled, illiterate artist spent his life in obscurity in rural Idaho. Drawing daily for some seventy years, he created a vast body of work that includes intimate tonal drawings of the farmland and homestead where he grew up; sculptures of human figures, animals, and objects made by stitching together pieces of paper and cardboard; hand-sewn books containing alphabets, syllabaries, calendrical schemes, and other data laid out in grids; and myriad copies, on fragments of used paper, of texts and images culled from illustrated magazines and commercial packaging. Despite this prodigious and singularly compelling output--and...

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