James Castle’s “Labor Day”
Material Culture Auctioneers is extremely proud to be presenting three works by famous self-taught American artist James Castle (1899-1977) at our May 5th auction, “New World Orders: Art, Furnishings, Collectables and Decorative Arts.” Castle was the subject of a major retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which subsequently toured in 2008-2009, and most recently had a large exhibition in Madrid, Spain.
Born completely deaf, Castle communicated with his world, in part, by creating artwork out of found objects–largely packaging, mail, and food containers—and created materials. Castle stayed in his native Idaho community for all of his life, and it is unclear whether he used sign language, or to what extent he could read and write. Scholars agree, however, that he knew little if anything about the world of art beyond his own creations, which make their many parallels to the journey of “mainstream” art throughout the twentieth century all the more stunning, ingenious, and prescient. His isolation, both from the larger art world and from speaking with the people around him, endows his collages and assemblages with a keen sense for uncovering the strange beauty of found objects, and his drawings present a world at once familiar and surreal.