MASSIMO DE CARLO announced its representation of painter Jordan Casteel, whose illuminating portraits capture detailed observations of her subjects—primarily young Black men, her students, and residents of the culturally rich community of Harlem.

She is now jointly represented by Casey Kaplan in New York and Massimo de Carlo, which has gallery locations in Milan, London, and Hong Kong.

Casteel’s first solo museum show in New York was recently on view at the New Museum. “Within Reach, New Museum” (Feb. 19-Jan. 3, 2021) presented nearly 40 paintings spanning her career, dating back to 2013.

The run of the exhibition was extended after being interrupted by the museum’s temporary closure due to COVID-19.

The New Museum show was preceded by “Returning the Gaze,” a solo exhibition organized by the Denver Art Museum, her hometown museum, that traveled to the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University (2019–20). Casteel also had a solo exhibition of recent painting at Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. “Jordan Casteel: Harlem Notes” was on view at the Charlotte, N.C., museum in 2017.

Born in Denver, Colo., Casteel lives and works in New York City. She earned an MFA from Yale University (2014) and was an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015-16).

When Casteel arrived at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., where she earned her undergraduate degree, after she was introduced to her professors and the school’s president, her mother made sure she met the people who kept the place going and would sustain her—people who worked in the kitchen and kept the grounds. An experience that reflects her family background (her grandfather was Whitney M. Young, the civil rights leader who served as executive director of the Urban League) and has informed her work.

“I do think there is a strong connection between my sociological studies and my work,” Casteel said in a conversation with exhibition curator Massimiliano Gionio published in the catalog for “Within Reach.”

“It was also important that I grew up in a household where social justice was at the forefront of our thoughts and our lives. I was brought up to acknowledge the presence of people who work with you. Probably, all this is reflected in my work and in the people who catch my interest as subjects.”

“I was brought up to acknowledge the presence of people who work with you. Probably, all this is reflected in my work and in the people who catch my interest as subjects.” — Jordan Casteel

Casteel’s portraits are based on her own photographs. The work has shown particular currency over the past year. In November, her portrait of Barack Obama was published in The Atlantic, accompanying “Why Obama Fears for Our Democracy,” the magazine’s coverage of “Promised Land,” the former President’s White House memoir.

In September, Casteel’s portrait of designer Aurora James appeared on the cover of the fall fashion issue of American Vogue. James is the creative director of Brother Vellies. Last June as racial justice protests swept the nation, she established the 15 Percent Pledge, a call-to-action for retailers to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Collectors Pamela Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida acquired the original painting of James and have placed it on long-term loan to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

A massive mural by Casteel is currently installed along the High Line park in New York through this summer. A double portrait, “The Baayfalls” features Fallou, a woman Casteel became friendly with during her residency at the Studio Museum. Fallou was selling hats she designed at a table in front of the museum. The image captures Fallou and her brother, Baaye Demba Sow. The public artwork recreates a painting Casteel made in 2017, which is also in the collection of Joyner and Giuffrida.

Massimo de Carlo represents nearly 60 artists, including Sanford Biggers, McArthur Binion, and Tony Lewis. On Instagram, Casteel said she was “thrilled beyond belief” to share her new representation. Her first exhibition with Massimo de Carlo has yet to be scheduled. The gallery told Culture Type it will be announced soon. CT


FIND MORE about Jordan Casteel on her website


JORDAN CASTEEL, “Royal,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 78 x 60 inches). | © Jordan Casteel. Courtesy the artist and Massimo de Carlo


“Jordan Casteel: Within Reach” accompanied the artist’s exhibition at the New Museum, her first solo museum show in New York. “Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze” documents Jordan Casteel’s first solo exhibition at a mainstream art museum, which was organized by the Denver Art Museum.


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