The painter says the real joy of her work is showing her portraits to her subjects.
Jordan Casteel has followed a trajectory few artist can relate to.
This week, she opened an impressive institutional show at the New Museum in New York titled “Within Reach,” and her paintings are selling for six figures at Christie’s. A giant portrait of hers now looms over New York’s High Line Park, and she’s quickly become a poster child for new figurative painting.
But Casteel, with her signature pixie cut and cat eyeglasses, has always been a step out of sync with the rhythms of the art world.
At 23, she got into Yale’s renowned art school after Googling “best MFA programs.” The year she graduated, she opened “Visible Man,” a buzzy debut of intimate portraits of naked men at Sargent’s Daughters.
“I’ve always been interested in trying to capture the people behind the scenes,” Casteel tells Artnet News. Her work, like the offspring of Alice Neel and Kerry James Marshall, makes you feel both intimately familiar with her subjects and like you’re seeing them for the first time.
On the occasion of her New Museum show, we visited the artist’s studio in the Bronx, where the walls are hung with candid photos of subway riders and others source materials for future paintings.