Why Outsider Artist James Castle Is So Hard To Categorize

December 8, 2014 3:04 PM

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Why Outsider Artist James Castle Is So Hard To Categorize

As far as acclaimed artists go, James Castle is somewhat of an anomaly. For one, he was raised on a farm in rural Garden Valley, Idaho and spent most of his adult life in Boise. Furthermore, he was born deaf and never learned sign language. The only way Castle could communicate, from his birth in 1899 until his death in 1977, was through the artwork he created.

And yet, Castle doesn't quite fit the mold for what we retroactively refer to as outsider art. As Ken Johnson wrote in The New York Times, his work is "not visionary, paranoid or obsessive," as is emblematic of most outsider artists. "He approached drawing, rather, with an almost scientific attitude...

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