drawing on small rectangle of paper with tilted purple square at center featuring an abstracted portrait; the text “free!” in white set within a red oblong shape overlaps the purple square at TL; small green rectangle floats over BRQ of purple square; abstracted face in ULC and to right center of purple square; two green “peaks” at URC; variety of shapes and lines make up rest of composition in green, yellow, red, blue, purple, and black pigments; there is a ½” strip at R edge of paper that is white save four distinct, vertically-oriented green rectangles; frame backing has “James Castle, jca 0674.20, CA 26219” written in black ink at TLC; printed label with artist name, title, medium, and dimensions affixed to backing along with “Knoedler & Company” label, framers label, a red ticket marked “sold,” and a side from an old ice cream box marked, “Home Dairies vanilla ice cream”

Copyright © 2018 James Castle Collection and Archive LP%2C All rights reserved.

Untitled (Free!), after 1960

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Castle’s fascination with text and commercial advertising included a fondness for isolating single words within a composition. Here, he highlights a common marketing refrain—Free!—an enticement that Castle likely chose for both formal and conceptual reasons. With the word centered on the sheet, Castle adds an unusual compositional structure, a fractured, Cubist-like pictorial space that mimics the effect of a kaleidoscope, an optical instrument that alters visual images into abstract geometric arrangements of colored elements. Castle was intrigued by the kaleidoscope from childhood, and, according to family members, possessed several.

Details
Title
Untitled (Free!)
Artist Life
1899–1977
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2014.141.4
Provenance
(Knoedler Gallery, New York, until c. 2006; sold to Mersky); Robert B. Mersky, Minneapolis; given to MIA, 2014
Curator Approved

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drawing on small rectangle of paper with tilted purple square at center featuring an abstracted portrait; the text “free!” in white set within a red oblong shape overlaps the purple square at TL; small green rectangle floats over BRQ of purple square; abstracted face in ULC and to right center of purple square; two green “peaks” at URC; variety of shapes and lines make up rest of composition in green, yellow, red, blue, purple, and black pigments; there is a ½” strip at R edge of paper that is white save four distinct, vertically-oriented green rectangles; frame backing has “James Castle, jca 0674.20, CA 26219” written in black ink at TLC; printed label with artist name, title, medium, and dimensions affixed to backing along with “Knoedler & Company” label, framers label, a red ticket marked “sold,” and a side from an old ice cream box marked, “Home Dairies vanilla ice cream”

Copyright © 2018 James Castle Collection and Archive LP, All rights reserved.

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