Current Exhibitions

Federico Castellón: In Print

07/15/2014 - 01/12/2015

Goodman Gallery map


Federico Castellón (1914-1971) is often heralded as one of the first American artists to embrace Surrealism. Born in Almería, Spain, he immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of seven. Although he was brought up in Brooklyn, New York, Castellón’s Spanish heritage played an important role in his artistic development. While in high school Castellón’s talent, as well as his interest in modern art, was brought to the attention of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Rivera served as a mentor and through his social and political connections helped Castellón secure his first one-man show in New York and receive a traveling fellowship from the Spanish government. With these funds the young artist went to Europe from 1934-37; there he had the opportunity to exhibit his work in Paris alongside the Spanish Surrealists Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. After returning to New York, Castellón’s career was successfully established when he received the first of two Guggenheim Fellowships and his work was shown in museums in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York.  He would later teach for many years at Columbia University and Pratt Institute and also worked as an illustrator.     

Initially a painter, Castellón learned about printmaking techniques in Paris and was introduced to lithography in 1937 at George Miller’s workshop. Although Castellón incorporated conventional Surrealist devices such as floating objects, disembodied limbs, biomorphic forms, and barren landscapes into his work, the early etchings and lithographs shown here hover between Surrealism and Realism, a style most recently termed Magic Realism. This sensibility is primarily visible in his figures, which are depicted realistically yet appear to be in a trance-like state. A quiet stillness—a sinister strangeness—that pervades his imagery is an element that underlies much of his graphic work. It is a quality that Castellón masterfully renders through the clarity and tone of his black and white prints.

Curated by Marilyn Masler, Registrar

Federico Castellón, American (b. Spain), 1914 - 1971
. . .the giddiest grew pale. . . from The Mask of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, 1969, published by Aquarius Press, Baltimore, Maryland
Sixteen lithographs, 101/500
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis TN
Gift of Isabel Ehrlich Goodman and Charles F. Goodman  90.19.2a-b
© Estate of the Artist