James Castle: A Retrospective

Overview

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 ...

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2008 Hardcover New 0300137303. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened--272 pp. With 433 ills. (402 col. ) and DVD.

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

James Castle (1899-1977), born profoundly deaf, lived within his own silent world, communicating solely through his art, and he left an innovative and imaginative body of work. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has mounted the first comprehensive exhibition of Castle's work, and Percy (curator of drawings, Philadelphia Museum of Art) has brought together an amazing collection of his art as well as scholarly essays and biographical pieces. Castle used everyday items like soot, swabs, sticks, and food containers to create intricate constructions, surrealistic images, and collages of words and pictures. Here, one can find, e.g., endless sketches of rooms in his family's farmhouse, paintings on the bottom of an ice cream carton, and a glass bottle wrapped in felt, string, and paper. The book also examines Castle's materials and techniques and his obsession with the ephemera of life around him. A major contribution to the literature of 20th-century art as well as outsider art; the accompanying DVD features an excellent film, Jeffrey Wolf's James Castle: Portrait of an Artist.
—Paula Frosch

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300137309
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/25/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

Lenders to the exhibition

Foreword Innis Howe Shoenmaker Shoenmaker, Innis Howe

Map

Unfolding the Familiar: James Castle Reintroduced Ann Percy Percy, Ann 1

Feather in the Doorjamb: The Private Practice of a Curious Mind Jacqueline Crist Crist, Jacqueline 76

"Tying Things Together": An Interview with Terry Winters Jeffrey Wolf Wolf, Jeffrey 104

"Characters More Comely to the Eye": Text and Intention in the Art of James Castle Brendan Greaves Greaves, Brendan 118

A Creative Obsession: Observations on James Castle's Materials and Techniques Nancy Ash Ash, Nancy Scott Homolka Homolka, Scott 156

Handmade: A Scientific Study of James Castle's Art Beth Anne Price Price, Beth Anne Ken Sutherland Sutherland, Ken Daniel Kirby Kirby, Daniel Maarten van Bommel van Bommel, Maarten 174

Chronology Ann Percy Percy, Ann Kathleen Krattenmaker Krattenmaker, Kathleen 188

Checklist of the Exhibition Ann Percy Percy, Ann Nancy Ash Ash, Nancy Scott Homolka Homolka, Scott 196

Exhibition History 217

Appendix Castle Family Documents 219

Notes 225

Bibliography 243

Index of Names 248

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