|Education||Agnes Scott College (BA)|
Yale School of Art (MFA)
Jordan Casteel (born 1989) is an American figurative painter. Casteel typically paints intimate portraits of friends, lovers, and family members as well as neighbors and strangers in Harlem and New York. Casteel lives and works in New York City.
Early life and education
Casteel was born in Denver, Colorado in 1989. Casteel has a twin brother and an older brother. Artists Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, Faith Ringgold, Charles White, and Jacob Lawrence were significant influences while growing up.
Casteel studied at Lamar Dodd School of Art at University of Georgia in Cortona, Italy in 2010 and graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia in 2011. Casteel later went on to receive her Master in Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking at Yale in 2014. Casteel participated in several group exhibitions while at Yale, including 13 Artists, a historic show curated by then-classmate Awol Erizku.
After graduating from Yale, Casteel moved to New York City to pursue painting. Casteel's first solo exhibition in New York, titled Visible Man, opened in August 2014 at Sargent's Daughters. The show featured a number of large-scale paintings depicting mostly nude black men seated in various spaces throughout their homes. The show explored the balance between sexuality and sensuality, both in her subjects and the viewers.
Casteel was selected as a 2015-2016 artist-in-residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, alongside EJ Hill and Jibade-Khalil Huffman. The program gives artists a year-long studio space, fellowship grant, stipend for materials, and group exhibition that includes all of the artists-in-residence.
Casteel's second solo exhibition, titled Brothers, opened in October 2015 at Sargent's Daughters. The show contained eight large-scale paintings of dual-portraits and were produced as part of a residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s “Process Space” on Governor’s Island. Curator Johanna Fateman reviewed the work favorably, noting of Casteel's figures that, "she achieves their diorama-like magnetism with subtle perspectival distortions and a synergy of textures."
Casteel's third solo exhibition, Nights in Harlem, opened at Casey Kaplan in September 2017. The show continued her exploration of black male subjectivity but positioned her subjects in "complex interiors and urban environments." The show was met with critical praise; in New York magazine, critic Jerry Saltz wrote, "Casteel seems prepared to take a rightful place on the front lines of contemporary painting," and writer Tausif Noor wrote in Artforum, "Casteel navigates her terrain with ease, lightness, and empathy."
Casteel’s first major solo exhibition at a museum will be held at the Denver Art Museum, opening on February 2, 2019, and will feature approximately thirty paintings spanning over four years from 2014 to 2018. Curated by the Denver Art Museum’s own Rebecca Hart, the Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, the exhibition will also have its own catalog, the first solo publication to collect Casteel’s work thus far.
Themes and style
Casteel's practice explores humanity, sexuality, identity, and subjectivity. Casteel has almost exclusively painted black subjects, often in varying skin tones based on the light surrounding the sitter from the photographs she takes of her sitters. Subjects have been painted in varying shades of browns, greys, lime greens, navy blues, and light oranges.
Casteel's painterly approach and bold use of color have been compared to painters Jacob Lawrence, Nancy Spero, and Henri Matisse. The palettes Casteel develops in her work are both based on an obsessive relationship with color and vibrancy founded in her child hood, and a determination to push the boundaries of interpretation. She experiments with the effects her colors have on the environments she paints and their relation to her subjects. Throughout her collection of work the viewer can observe a wealth of colors representing the skin tones of her subjects alone. Casteel's posing and gaze of the subjects in her paintings are just as integral as her relationship with color as she continually attempts to push the dialogue of blackness. Casteel's figurative works have also been compared to New York artist Alice Neel.
Casteel’s work comes from personally taken photographs of her subjects. Entangling deeper meaning and targets for representation in the subjects and their surrounding. She aims to nudge the viewers thought considering what meaning lies behind being a black man in the US today. In an interview with studio international, a NY published art periodical with over 200-thousand monthly readers worldwide, Jordan states, “The intent of the paintings is to expose my vision of black men as a sister, daughter, friend and lover. That perspective is one full of empathy and love. I see their humanity and, in turn, I want the audience to engage with them as fathers, sons, brothers, cousins – as individuals with their own unique stories to share.”
- 2019 Challenge Coin recipient presented by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver, CO
- 2016 Sharpe-Walentas, Studio Program, DUMBO, NY
- 2015 Studio Museum in Harlem, Artist-In-Residence, Harlem, NY
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), Process Space, Governor's Island, NY
Yaddo, Fellow, Saratoga Springs, NY
New American Paintings, No. 116, Northeast Issue
- Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, 2019
- Nights in Harlem, Casey Kaplan, New York, NY, 2017
- Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes, Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC, 2017
- Brothers, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY, 2015
- Visible Man, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY, 2014
- The Gaze, The Study, Aisling Gallery, New Haven, CT, 2014
Selected group exhibitions
- Regarding the Figure, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, 2017
- Occupancies, 808 Gallery, Boston University Art Galleries, Boston, MA, 2017
- Man Alive, Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, 2017
- Intimisms, James Cohan, New York, NY, 2016
- Imitation of Life, HOME, Manchester, UK, 2016
- That's On Me, Paris Blues, Harlem, NY, 2015
- Sargent's Daughters, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY, 2014
- 13 Artists, Curated by Awol Erizku, Yale School of Art, Alternative Space, New Haven, CT, 2014
- The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
- MOCA, Los Angeles, CA
- The Ford Foundation, New York, NY
- The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR
- Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
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- The Editors of ARTnews (2015-10-13). "9 Art Events to Attend in New York City This Week". ARTnews. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
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- "Jordan Casteel". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
- "Lea K. Green Artist Talk". www.studiomuseum.org. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
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- "Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes". The Gantt Center. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
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- "Regarding the Figure". Studio Museum.
- "Occupancies | Boston University Art Galleries". www.bu.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
- "Man Alive | MARUANI MERCIER". maruanimercier.com. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
- "Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century - HOME". HOME. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
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- Center, Cantor Arts. "From the Cantor Arts Center - Flight". cantorcollection.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-16.