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Federico Castellon (1914-1971)


1 of 5
Untitled, 1933
oil on illustration board
10" x 14", signed and dated
The Proposal, 1935
dry brush on paper
11 3/4" x 16" sheet size
11 3/8" x 15 3/8" sight size, signed and dated
Greeting Visitors after a Long Journey, 1936
drybrush on paper
11 7/8" x 15 7/8", signed and dated

Untitled, 1939
ink on paper
6 1/4" x 8 1/2", signed and dated

Study for a Scarf, c.1945

ink and watercolor on paper, mounted on paper
36" x 35 3/4"

 


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Artist Information

“Aesthetics is a very important part of the whole thing because, as I say, it is the language but it is also part of the means. . . . I think aesthetics are something that absorb me only in the sense that I have to have the thing visually exciting to me, besides having it do something for me beyond the visual effect. In other words, the visual thing will attract me to it enormously and yet something will pull me into it, which is the thing itself. I am very strongly for form and matter, the combination of both.”[1]

Born one of seven children in Alhabia, a city in Almería, Spain, Federico Castellon lived in Barcelona before his parents moved the family to the United States when he was seven. They settled in Flatbush, in Brooklyn, New York. As a Spanish-speaking child with limited English living in a new country, Castellon found himself ostracized by his peers; he was also held back in school for two years. As a means of expression and “to save my sanity,” Castellon turned to drawing, which would consume him for hours. Largely self-taught, as a teenager he visited New York area museums to view the work of European masters, but it was at Erasmus Hall High School where an art teacher gave him his strongest encouragement and exposed him to modern art for the first time. Shortly after graduating from Erasmus High School, he completed a mural for the school based on the subject of arts and sciences. The mural, obviously informed by his interest in modern European movements, attracted critical attention and was exhibited in New York at Raymond and Raymond Galleries before being permanently installed in the school.

In the early 1930s, Castellon was introduced to Diego Rivera at a lecture given by the artist on his Man at the Crossroads murals for Rockefeller Center (destroyed in 1934 at Nelson Rockefeller’s request). The older artist took an interest in the young man’s work and brought Castellon’s drawings to the attention of the director of the Weyhe Gallery in New York, who subsequently gave the eighteen-year-old Castellon his first solo exhibition. So impressed with Castellon was Rivera that he also began writing letters to the Spanish Minister of Education on Castellon’s behalf, and through his efforts, the Spanish Republic awarded Castellon a government fellowship to study art for four years. In 1934, Castellon left to study painting and printmaking in Paris and Madrid. While there, he befriended leading artists and intellectuals who made European cafés lively places for debates about art and modernism in the 1930s. But Castellon’s return to Spain was meaningful on another level as well; it stirred up memories from his childhood that he had forgotten, “these memories became real all of a sudden where I had seen them, thought of them as dreams, never really seeing them as dreams but thought of them. All of a sudden I saw that I was moving in a dream.”[2] This dream-like reality would become a key component of his style.

In 1936, the Spanish Civil War erupted, bringing an abrupt end to Castellon’s studies. He returned to New York and in 1937, began to experiment with lithography and printmaking techniques he had learned in Europe. That same year and again in 1938, his work was included in the annual survey of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1939, Castellon did a residency at Yaddo, an artists’ and writers’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York, and in the following year, he received the first of two Guggenheim fellowships.

Although his formal education ended with high school, Castellon remained an avid reader and maintained an interest in psychology and philosophy. He became a United States citizen in 1943 and throughout the 1940s and 1950s, his work was informed by his travels abroad: to China with the US Army; Italy on his second Guggenheim fellowship; and Paris and Madrid, where he moved his family for a brief period during the late fifties. During this time, he also began his teaching career and took on commissions from American periodicals, most notably, Life magazine.

Even though he worked in virtually every media, Castellon remains best known for his early graphic work, particularly his etchings, a medium in which he became a master. His prints and drawings from the early thirties represent early examples of surrealism created in the United States, an astounding achievement considering Castellon produced these inventive, original works before his travels abroad and before the New York premiere of the Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition, Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, is the exclusive representative of the Estate of Federico Castellon.


[1] Oral history interview with Federico Castellon, 1971 April 7-14, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-federico-castellon-5452 (Accessed October 2012).

[2] Oral history interview, 1971.

 

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
Chazen Musuem of Art, University of Madison, WI
The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Madison Art Center, Madison, WI
The Menil Collection, Houston, TX
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY
Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL
Montclair State College, Montclair, NJ
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL
The New York Public Library, New York, NY
The Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Reina de Sofia, Madrid, Spain
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
Slater Memorial Museum and Converse Art Gallery, Norwich, CT
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
World Heritage Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University, New Haven, CT
 

1934   
Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY; 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941
Raymond and Raymond Gallery, New York, NY
Prado De Almeria, Almeria, Spain
Casa Velasquez, Madrid, Spain

1935 
College D'Espagne, Paris, France

1938-39 
American Federation of the Arts, New York, NY; Chattanooga, TN, University of Nebraska,
Lincoln, NB, Seattle Art Museum, WA, San Francisco Museum, CA, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, Mills College, Oakland, CA

1941 
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

1946 
Princeton Print Club, Princeton, NJ

1947 
Associated American Artists Gallery, New York, NY; 1950, 1952, 1965, 1966

1950 
The American Embassies in Bombay, India and Paris, France

1952 
Mercerberg Art Gallery, PA

1953 
University of Maine, Orono, ME; 1966

1954-55
State Department, Specialists Division of I.E.S, American Embassies in Argentina, Buenos
Aires, Bolivia, Las Paz, Chile, Santiago, Colombia, Bogota, Paraguay, Asuncion, Uruguay, Montivedeo, Venezuela, Caracas

1958 
Society of Illustrators, New York, NY

1961 
Gallery 10, New Hope, PA

1964 
Philadelphia Print Club, Philadelphia, PA
Dintenfass Gallery, New York, NY
Great Neck Library, Great Neck, NY

1965 
Hudson Guild Gallery, Great Neck, NY

1968 
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY

1968-69 
Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, CT

1971 
Lunn Gallery, Washington, DC

1972
American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

1976 
Graphics Gallery, Toronto, Ontario; 1977

1988 
Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library, Queens College, NY
Martin Sumers Gallery, New York, NY

1990 
Davidson Gallery, Seattle, WA

1992 
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1996 
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2008 
Federico Castellon, De Almeria a Nueva York, Museo de Almeria, Almeria, Spain
 

1933 
Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY; 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940

1934 
Uptown Gallery, New York, NY
Raymond and Raymond Gallery, New York, NY

1936 
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1937 
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; 1940
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; 1938, 1945, 1970

1938
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; 1940, 1942, 1969
Riksforbundet For Bilande Kunst

1939 
Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA

1941 
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA;
1947

1942 
Carnegie Institute of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; 1943, 1947

1943 
Alexandria Library, Alexandria, VA

1944 
National Academy of Design, New York, NY; 1945

1946 
Associated American Artists Gallery, New York, NY; 1952, 1965, 1973, 1974

1947 
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; 1949, 1968

1948 
J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

1951 
Cheltenham Township Art Center, Cheltenham, PA

1952 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; 1953
Mercerburg Art Gallery, PA
Galerie Jungst Der Gegenwart, Salzburg, Austria
Succession Gallery, Vienna, Austria

1954 
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

1956 
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ

1957 
University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

1961 
Gallery 10, New Hope, PA

1964 
Princeton Print Club, Princeton, NJ
Dintenfass Gallery, New York, NY
Pratt Graphic Art Center, New York, NY
Gallery Ten, Woodstock, NY
Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
World's Fair, New York

1965 
Dorsky Gallery, New York, NY
Galerie Des Peintres Graveurs, Paris, France

1966 
Madison Art Center, Madison, WI
Depauw University Art Center, Chicago, IL

1968 
New York Public Library, New York, NY
Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, CT
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Rijksakademie Van Beelende Kunsen, Amsterdam, Holland

1969 
Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY
Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, CT

1971 
Lunn Gallery, Washington, DC
Biennale International De L'Estampe Epinal, Paris, France

1972
Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN

1974 
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
American Master Prints III, Associated American Artists, New York, NY

1977
Surrealism and American Art: 1931-1947, Rutgers University Art Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ

1992
Surrealism Embodied: The Figure in American Art 1933-1953, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1994 
Counterpoints: American Art 1930-1945, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1995
Collage: Made in America, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
El Surrealismo En Espana, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (Exhibition traveled to Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Germany; Kunthalle Vienna, Austria; Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Palazzo Forti, Verona, Italy; Auditorio de Galicia, Santiago de Compostela)

1996 
Exploring the Unknown: Surrealism in American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1997 
Surrealism and American Art 1932-1949, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL

1998 
The Surrealist Vision: Europe and The Americas, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, FL
Twentieth Century American Drawings, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AK; Sunrise Museums,   Charleston, WV; Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN; Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID

1999 
Drawn Across the Century: Highlights from the Dillard Collection of Art on Paper,
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC

2000 
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery: The First Decade, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
2000 Collector’s Show, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR

2002
Transitions at Mid-Century, Works on Paper 1945-1955, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

2005
Surrealism USA, National Academy Museum, New York, NY; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ

2006
Lines of Discovery, 225 Years of American Drawings, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, GA; The Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR

2007
Body Beware: 18 American Artists, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Surrealism:  Dreams on Canvas, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY

2010
Unconscious Unbound:  Surrealism in America, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

2011
Night Scented Stock, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY
Otherworldliness, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2012
Drawing Surrealism, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Real/Surreal: Works in the Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE; Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, MI
INsite/INchelsea: The Inaugural Exhibition, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2013
Fear and Folly: The Visionary Prints of Francisco Goya and Federico Castellon; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI;  Foosaner Art Museum at Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL; TCNJ Art Gallery and Sarnoff Collection, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ
Drawing Surrealism, Los Angeles County Museum of, Art, Los Angeles, CA; Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY

2014
Solitary Soul, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

2015
Fields of Dream: The Surrealist Landscape, Di Donna Gallery, New York, NY

2016
Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

2017
The Age of Anxiety, American Painting in the 1930’s, Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris, France

1934-1938
Traveling Fellowship from Spanish Government

1940
Guggenheim Fellowship

1949 
Member of National Academy of Design
Guggenheim Fellowship

1968 
Member of National Institute of Arts and Letters