A long record of critical acclaim, scholarship, and steady acquisition by public
institutions gives American artist Wendell Castle's work indelible historic importance.
His groundbreaking unification of sculpture and furniture galvanized a generation of
artists and designers and contributed to the acceptance of design as an art form in its own
Castle's work is recognized for its wry wit and uniquely sculptural use of materials,
including his signatures: stack-laminated wood and fiberglass. His new body of work
pushes these materials further, while also applying his distinctive exploration of volume
to bronze, steel, and aluminum.
Night on Earth, a biomorphic stainless steel chaise, is layered and textural; its curvy shell
pierced and permeable. Created by welding together "amoeba-like" metal forms, the final
piece is warm and vital, burnished to achieve a smooth surface with a high polish.
Considering the metal forms as cells rather than amoebae, this sculpture becomes a kind
of living organism. Light is integral to several of Castle's new works; in Night on Earth,
for example, light shines through the interstices between the metal shapes, creating a starlike
pattern on the floor.
With this exhibition, Castle is presenting new works in fiberglass. Unlike his earlier
designs (including his celebrated Molar Group), which employed relatively simple
techniques and straightforward zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms, his new
fiberglass works fully embrace the material, resulting in sensuous, fully actualized
volumes with luminous finishes.
His Nirvana Chair is comprised of design elements that evince both celerity and repose.
A broad rounded seat rests atop three stylized legs—a device common to several of
Castle's new fiberglass designs—that can be read as references to organic forms or to
bullets. A leg pierces one armrest, forming a knob, while the other armrest is attenuated
into a horizontal fin that serves as a tabletop. The piece is finished with multiple coatings
of automobile-grade "metal-flake" urethane. The paint—a favorite, Castle points out,
among hot-rod restorers—is iridescent, and appears to change colors—from blue to
purple to aubergine—depending on the angle at which light strikes the surface.
The organic, curvilinear forms of this new work link it to Castle's past masterworks, but
the bold experimentation with materials, surfaces, and finishing techniques push his
oeuvre very close to its magnum opus. These pieces represent a mature synthesis of all
that Castle has learned throughout his career, combined with his indefatigable curiosity
and excitement in exploration and discovery.
May 1 - June 27, 2008
Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, NY