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James Castle: A Retrospective

James Castle: A Retrospective

Edited by Ann Percy
Essays by Ann Percy, Jacqueline Crist, Brendan Greaves, Nancy Ash and Scott Homolka; and Beth Anne Price, Kenneth Sutherland, Daniel Kirby, and Maarten van Bommel; interview with Terry Winters by Jeffrey Wolf

James Castle (1899–1977) never learned to speak, read, or write and left his native state of Idaho only once and briefly, yet he created a wide range of extraordinary works that resonate with much of twentieth-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 400 full-color reproductions and packaged with an original documentary DVD illuminating fascinating aspects of the artist’s life and work, this volume examines Castle’s drawings, color wash works, idiosyncratic cardboard and paper constructions, handmade books, and text 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 or paper wads to such found materials as product packaging and discarded paper. These everyday materials give his works a unique and appealing natural quality.

James Castle: A Retrospective 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.

About the Author
Ann Percy is Curator of Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Idaho Library Book Award 2008

272 pages
17 b&w + 420 color illus.
9 x 11 ¾ inches
Hardcover with DVD ISBN: 9780876332061
Softcover with DVD ISBN: 9780876332078