James Castle was an artist like none other. He was able to develop his approach to art unencumbered by the prejudices and rules of the outside world. His curiosity allowed him to find inspiration everywhere, from discarded butter packaging to newspaper comics and even textbooks. Castle was also a thoughtful artist dedicated to his craft. He worked constantly, trying his hand at new concepts, absorbing outside images and reimagining them as his own.

His methods, however, have created some unique challenges, at least for curators and historians. Castle never dated or titled any of his work, which makes it nearly impossible to track his progression as an artist. Additionally, he often bundled his art in small boxes and stashed them in hiding spots that weren’t discovered for decades.

James Castle - Man in Doorway

Case Study #1

JAMES CASTLE Case Study #1

The Case Study series features a curated selection of artworks that share a common expression of similar themes and images. In our continued presentation of Case Studies, we propose that Castle’s work be considered as groups of drawings from different time periods which share specific similarities.

Case Study #1 presents 15 color and soot drawings that are similar in formal composition. Each composition included here presents a centered space that is either empty or contains a sitting figure, an abstract form, or a building that draws the viewer’s focus to the exact center of the drawing. Throughout Castle’s work he demonstrates a deep curiosity for spatial relationships and both negative and positive space.