James Castle, ‘Untitled ( Porch with scale; verso: landscape)’, n.d., Fleisher/Ollman

About James Castle

James Castle was a self-taught artist who was born deaf and never learned to sign or read or write language in a conventional manner. His drawings, always executed in intimate scale, are expressions of his introspection and life experiences. To create his work, Castle used found materials like scraps from his parents’ general store—such as matchbooks, packing paper, calendars, register receipts, and grocery cartons—and created marks using stove soot mixed with saliva, and a sharpened stick as a stylus. Though he was considered illiterate, Castle often used textual elements in his compositions, taking the form of numbers, hybrid letters, or symbols. More common subjects included his immediate surroundings and daily encounters.

American, 1899-1977