James Castle: Memory Palace

James Castle: Memory Palace

by John Beardsley
James Castle: Memory Palace

James Castle: Memory Palace

by John Beardsley


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A fascinating new look at an extraordinary artist whose deafness led to an acute visual awareness and near photographic memory

Self-taught artist James Castle (1899–1977) is primarily known for soot and saliva drawings of meticulously rendered domestic interiors and farm scenes, along with fantastical figures, animals, and architectural constructions made of cardboard and stitched paper. Castle was born into a family of homesteaders in Idaho, and his visual world comprised variations of seemingly ordinary subjects: rural landscapes, houses, barns, and outbuildings; interiors with closed and open doors, beds, bureaus, tile floors, and minutely patterned wallpaper; and color copies of illustrated advertisements for food, fuel, and matches.

Castle was a deaf artist who by most accounts never learned to read, write, or speak. In this remarkable book, author John Beardsley discusses how these limitations led to the development of an extraordinary memory, an ability that enabled him to create a large number of distinctly intelligent artworks. Beardsley follows Castle’s work as if through a series of rooms (a “Memory Palace”)—interiors, exteriors, objects, books, and words—reproducing many previously unknown works and referencing other documents made available for the first time from the James Castle Collection and Archive.

Published in association with the James Castle Collection and Archive

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300253498
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 03/02/2021
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 9.25(w) x 11.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

John Beardsley is an author, curator, and educator.
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