Untitled (green figure) Found paper, color of unknown origin Unsigned, gallery label on verso 3 1/2" x 2 1/2" (sight), 13 1/2” x 12” (framed) Provenance: J. Christ Gallery, Idaho James Castle never left Idaho or the homes of his family. His art, all undated, largely reflects the people and rural landscape that surrounded him. Profoundly deaf from birth, Castle did not attend school until he was ten years old. It’s unknown to what extent he could read, though his artwork demonstrates a fascination with signs and written language. Castle began drawing and making things with found materials at a very early age. Throughout his life, his daily ritual included checking all the trash containers in his home and throughout the immediate neighborhood for the materials from which he would make his art. Many of his drawings are on the back of used envelopes, used pieces of paper or repurposed cardboard. He fashioned sticks, fruit pits and broken fountain-pen nibs into tools. He scraped soot from the wood burning stove and mixed it with his spit to make black ink. He often derived color by squeezing pigment from saturated crepe paper. Family members gave him store-bought art materials such as oil sticks and watercolors, and he used these also. In the 1950s, Castle’s nephew showed some of his uncle’s drawings at his art school In Portland, Oregon. Castle’s work quickly became the subject of solo and group exhibitions throughout the Pacific Northwest from the 1960s until his death in 1977. Overwhelmed by the continued interest in his work, his family denied access to the collection for the next 20 years. In 1998, Castle’s work was again introduced to the public at the Outsider Art Fair in New York City. Museum and gallery exhibitions soon followed throughout the U.S. Major museums acquired Castle’s work for their permanent collections, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened James Castle: A Retrospective in 2008. The 2013 Venice Biennale included eleven works by Castle in the feature exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace.
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