Jordan Casteel: an introduction

As the New York Times writes, “Jordan Casteel’s vibrant colors capture the spirit and humanity of her subjects: black and brown people who have often been excluded from art institutions.” Like other BIPOC artists of her generation — notably Henry Taylor, Amy Sherald, Kerry James Marshall, and Kent Monkman — part of Casteel’s project is to portray Black people with nuance and deep humanity. Importantly, the project is focused on getting these images into the collective consciousness and as an intervention into the pervasive whiteness of cultural institutions and collections. A great collection of her work is available on the Casey Kaplan Gallery website.

Her early work, undertaken when she was a graduate student at Yale, often depicts Black men in the nude — albeit with genitals obscured — presenting a deep vulnerability. Her recent work presents her subjects in the everydayness of their lives.  As she says, “I needed to find a way to combine my desire to create a sense of visibility around my family and my brothers that was feeling absent at that time.” Her work is about humanizing bodies that are often criminalized.

Casteel users photographs to create her paintings. In talking about the process of shooting the photograph, she speaks to the immediacy of the moment and thinks of the camera as a ‘liaison between the painting and the sitter.’


Wikipedia: 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.

An amazing interview on the artist’s practice

Roxane Gay’s interview: Where Artist Jordan Casteel Sees Herself Going

Hyperallergic Review of Casteel’s Show, In Bloom


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