Jordan Casteel

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Jordan Casteel
Denver, CO
EducationAgnes Scott College (BA)
Yale School of Art (MFA)
Known forPainting
AwardsMacArthur Fellow

Jordan Casteel (born 1989)[1] 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.[2] Casteel lives and works in New York City.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Casteel was born in Denver, Colorado in 1989 to Lauren Young Casteel and Charles Casteel.[4][5][6] Casteel has a twin brother and an older brother. She was named after Vernon E. Jordan Jr, who succeeded her grandfather Whitney Young as head of the National Urban League and was a close family friend. Her grandmother was Margaret Buckner Young, an educator and children’s-book author.[4][7]

Artists Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, Faith Ringgold, Charles White, and Jacob Lawrence were significant influences while growing up.[7]

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.[8] Casteel participated in several group exhibitions while at Yale, including 13 Artists, a historic show curated by then-classmate Awol Erizku.[9]

Casteel has lupus and has noted that the condition was especially difficult during her graduate studies.[2]


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.[10] The show featured a number of large-scale paintings depicting mostly nude black men seated in various spaces throughout their homes.[11] The show explored the balance between sexuality and sensuality, both in her subjects and the viewers.[11]

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.[12] 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.[8][13]

Casteel's second solo exhibition, titled Brothers, opened in October 2015 at Sargent's Daughters.[14] 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.[15][16] 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."[17]

Casteel's third solo exhibition, Nights in Harlem, opened at Casey Kaplan in September 2017.[18] The show continued her exploration of black male subjectivity but positioned her subjects in "complex interiors and urban environments."[19] 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."[20][21]

Casteel’s first major solo exhibition at a museum was at the Denver Art Museum opened in February 2019. It features approximately thirty paintings spanning over four years from 2014 to 2018.[22][23]

In 2020, Casteel painted a portrait of fashion designer Aurora James for one of the September 2020 covers ofVogue magazine.[24] Jordan Casteel: Within Reach, her first major New York City museum solo show, opened in February 2020 at the New Museum.[25] In 2021, Casteel was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.[26]

Themes and style[edit]

Casteel's practice explores humanity, sexuality, identity, and subjectivity.[27] 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.[28]

Casteel's painterly approach and bold use of color have been compared to painters Jacob Lawrence, Nancy Spero, and Henri Matisse.[10] The palettes Casteel develops in her work are both based on an obsessive relationship with color and vibrancy founded in her childhood, 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.[29] Casteel's figurative works have also been compared to New York artist Alice Neel.[30]

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 viewer's thought considering what meaning lies behind being a black man in the U.S. today. In an interview with studio international, a New York 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.”[31]


Casteel is an Assistant Professor of Painting in the Department of Arts, Culture, and Media at Rutgers University - Newark.[32]

Personal life[edit]

She lives in Harlem with her husband David Schulze, an Australian-born photographer she met on the dating app Raya.[4]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Jordan Casteel: Within Reach, New Museum, New York, NY, 2020[25]
  • Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, 2019[33]
  • Nights in Harlem, Casey Kaplan, New York, NY, 2017[34]
  • Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes, Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC, 2017[35]
  • Brothers, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY, 2015[36]
  • Visible Man, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY, 2014
  • The Gaze, The Study, Aisling Gallery, New Haven, CT, 2014

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

  • Regarding the Figure, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, 2017[37]
  • Occupancies, 808 Gallery, Boston University Art Galleries, Boston, MA, 2017[38]
  • Man Alive, Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, 2017[39]
  • Intimisms, James Cohan, New York, NY, 2016
  • Imitation of Life, HOME, Manchester, UK, 2016[40]
  • 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[9]

Public collections[edit]


  1. ^ "ABOUT". Jordan Casteel (in American English). Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  2. ^ a b "Jordan Casteel Googled 'Best MFA Program.' Four Years Later, the Yale Grad Is a Rising Art Star". artnet News (in American English). 2017-10-13. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  3. ^ "Jordan Casteel — Art21". Art21. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  4. ^ a b c "In Her First Solo Museum Show, Jordan Casteel's Humanizing Portraits Get Even Closer". 15 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Jordan Casteel". Art21. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  6. ^ Phaidon Editors (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0714878775. {{cite book}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  7. ^ a b "Jordan Casteel – Creative New York". Creative New York. 2016-04-12. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  8. ^ a b "Studio Museum in Harlem Announces Artists in Residence for 2015-16". (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  9. ^ a b "Yale University Is Having Its First All-Black Art Show". Vice (in American English). 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  10. ^ a b "Jordan Casteel - Exhibitions - Sargent's Daughters". Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  11. ^ a b "Jordan Casteel". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  12. ^ "Lea K. Green Artist Talk | Jordan Casteel".
  13. ^ "Meet Harlem's Newest Artists-in-Residence". Creators (in American English). 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  14. ^ "Jordan Casteel - Exhibitions - Sargent's Daughters". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  15. ^ "Jordan Casteel, "Brothers"". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  16. ^ The Editors of ARTnews (2015-10-13). "9 Art Events to Attend in New York City This Week". ARTnews (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-21. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  17. ^ Fateman, Johanna. "Jordan Casteel at Sargent's Daughters". (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  18. ^ "Jordan Casteel: Nights in Harlem | Casey Kaplan". (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  19. ^ "New American Paintings". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  20. ^ Saltz, Jerry. "Three-Sentence Reviews: Peter Saul, Trevor Paglen, and 7 More". Vulture. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  21. ^ Noor, Tausif. "Jordan Casteel at Casey Kaplan". (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  22. ^ "Denver Art Museum Presents First Major Museum Exhibition Dedicated to Jordan Casteel, Denver Art Museum".
  23. ^ "EVENTS:MoCA LA .Jordan Casteel on One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art". Jordan Casteel.
  24. ^ Kazanjian, Dodie (August 25, 2020). "The Making of Vogue's September 2020 Covers". Vogue. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  25. ^ a b "Jordan Casteel: Within Reach". Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  26. ^ "MacArthur Foundation Announces 2021 'Genius' Grant Winners". The New York Times. September 28, 2021. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  27. ^ "Post-Black Art in the Age of Hip-Hop". Vice (in American English). 2014-12-12. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  28. ^ Greenberger, Alex (2016-12-15). "Casey Kaplan Now Represents Jordan Casteel". ARTnews (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  29. ^ "This Artist Wants You To See The Fullness Of Black Men's Lives". The FADER. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  30. ^ "Jordan Casteel". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  31. ^ Biswas, Allie. "Jordan Casteel: 'My perspective is one full of empathy and love'". Studio International - Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (in British English). Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  32. ^ "Profile: Jordan Casteel | Rutgers–Newark Colleges of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  33. ^ "JORDAN CASTEEL RETURNING THE GAZE". Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  34. ^ "Jordan Casteel: Nights in Harlem | Casey Kaplan". (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  35. ^ "Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes". The Gantt Center (in American English). Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  36. ^ "Jordan Casteel - Exhibitions - Sargent's Daughters". Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  37. ^ "Regarding the Figure". Studio Museum.
  38. ^ "Occupancies | Boston University Art Galleries". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  39. ^ "Man Alive | MARUANI MERCIER". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  40. ^ "Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century - HOME". HOME (in British English). Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  41. ^ "The Studio Museum in Harlem". Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  42. ^ Center, Cantor Arts. "From the Cantor Arts Center - Flight". Retrieved 2019-03-16.