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UntitledThe Art of James Castle

Published by GILES in association with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

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Untitled - Cover

Untitled - Double page spread

Untitled - Double page spread

Add to Cart US$32.45   was US$49.95

Published — (UK and USA)

Dimensions — 128 pages, 254 x 205 mm, (8 x 10 in)

Illustrations — 92 colour

Format — Hardback

Price — UK£29.95/US$49.95

ISBN — 978-1-907804-62-5

News  —  Untitled opens September 26

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Features fifty-four pieces acquired  by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2013

A fully representative selection of the artist’s immense oeuvre, including drawings, handmade books, texts, and constructions

Highlights the remarkable quality of Castle’s vision, and gives an insight into the world of one of the most enigmatic American artists of the twentieth century

A highly attractive hardcover collectors' edition.

About the Book

James Castle (1899-1977) spent his formative years in remote Garden Valley, Idaho and his adult life at locations near Boise, where, for nearly seven decades, he devoted himself daily to intensive art-making. Castle worked with materials that were immediately available, including a wide range of ephemera—advertisements, periodicals, and packaging—that he manipulated with soot, sticks, string and improvised colors to create an elaborate and unmistakable representation of his world. Subjects range from the farms of Garden Valley and interiors of homes, to family members, household objects, and snippets of popular culture. Other works move beyond the documentary to include invented words and symbols, fantastical calendars, and books with cryptic pictorial narratives.

Since Castle’s work first came to light in the 1950s, attention has focused primarily on the unusual circumstances of his life: Castle was born profoundly deaf, remained illiterate, and never acquired a conventional mode of communicating with others. He is often assumed to have lived a form of extreme isolation. This new volume seeks to move beyond such biography; the artworks themselves can be seen as ‘windows’ on his world and unique life. 

Untitled: The Art of James Castle will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, September 26, 2014 – February 1, 2015


About the Author(s)

Nicholas R. Bell is the Fleur and Charles Bresler Senior Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art; Leslie Umberger is curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Foreword by Alexander Nemerov, the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University