James Castle, subject of Smithsonian show, put ‘taught’ in self-taught

James Castle Untitled

James Castle. Untitled.
n.d. Found paper and soot. Smithsonian American Art Museum


My article “James Castle, subject of Smithsonian show, put ‘taught’ in self-taught” appears in the Washington Post.

“The 54 Castle works in the show, a 2013 Smithsonian acquisition, represent one of the largest collections of the artist’s work. The show’s prominence raises questions about how viewers should respond to self-taught art — which goes by aliases such as outsider, visionary, and folk art and involves figures such as Grandma Moses and Henri Rousseau. Can visitors be expected to ignore an artist’s biography, particularly in a field such as self-taught art, which suggests in its very title that context is vital?

Experts are divided on how museums should contextualize works such as Castle’s…”

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