PRINT December 2009

Lynne Cooke

A POLEMIC UNDERPIN the conventional title of this extraordinary exhibition featuring some three hundred works spanning James Castle’s career. Born deaf in 1899, the largely unschooled, illiterate artist spent his life in obscurity in rural Idaho. Drawing daily for some seventy years, he created a vast body of work that includes intimate tonal drawings of the farmland and homestead where he grew up; sculptures of human figures, animals, and objects made by stitching together pieces of paper and cardboard; hand-sewn books containing alphabets, syllabaries, calendrical schemes, and other data laid out in grids; and myriad copies, on fragments of used paper, of texts and images culled from illustrated magazines and commercial packaging. Despite this prodigious and singularly compelling output—and the efforts of various well-placed advocates—even today few contemporary art aficionados

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