matchbox-style cardboard box made from a Cheer detergent box with printing primarily in blues and yellow; pink string holds side of cover closed and holds ends of box closed; box contains various ephemera--including matchbook covers, small bits of newspaper with images, portions of cardboard and paper consumer product packaging--and mainly figurative drawings--some on rough paper, some on bits of packaging/cardboard

Copyright %C2%A9 2018 James Castle Collection and Archive LP%2C All rights reserved.

Untitled (Cheer), after 1930

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Featuring more than two dozen unique drawings (some double-sided) and a selection of commercial ephemera, this remarkable James Castle “bundle” work is essentially a portable exhibition in a box. Most of the drawings are portraits or figurative compositions, though subjects include abstractions, landscapes, and an ocean liner. The selection incudes both color and black-and-white examples. Castle fashioned the exterior and tray of the box from a discarded carton of Cheer laundry detergent. It is nearly identical to the cardboard boxes of wooden kitchen matches that he favored as substrates for his soot drawings. But for him, everything had to be unique and handmade. The idea of organizing and storing drawings in discrete packages extended to the long-term storage of Castle’s artwork. He routinely stacked and tied finished works of art in bundles and then placed them in the family’s attic or in barns or outbuildings. He often set the bundles on open beams or placed them inside walls. The storage of small-scale drawings and items of commercial ephemera inside a discrete handmade box speaks to this penchant for preservation and categorization. Its intended purpose is unknown, though it may have operated as a miniaturized drawing exhibition.

Details
Title
Untitled (Cheer)
Artist Life
1899–1977
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2016.35.4a-qq
Provenance
(Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago, sold to Mersky 2016); Mary and Bob Mersky, Minneapolis; given to MIA, 2016
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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matchbox-style cardboard box made from a Cheer detergent box with printing primarily in blues and yellow; pink string holds side of cover closed and holds ends of box closed; box contains various ephemera--including matchbook covers, small bits of newspaper with images, portions of cardboard and paper consumer product packaging--and mainly figurative drawings--some on rough paper, some on bits of packaging/cardboard

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

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