Wendell Castle

I believe that drawing is critical thinking. Nothing good is easy, and this is because we see so little at first glance. It’s only by drawing/thinking about something that we are able to move ourselves into perceptions that we never knew we were capable of.”

Throughout a celebrated career spanning six decades, Wendell Castle introduced groundbreaking ways of looking at, thinking about, and making furniture. In doing so, he created a new sculptural vocabulary that became the cornerstone of his practice and established him as the father of the American studio furniture movement. Up until his death, Castle continued to defy categorization through his sheer creative drive.

Born in Emporia, Kansas in 1932, Castle received a Bachelor’s Fine Art in Industrial Design from the University of Kansas in 1958 and a Masters of Fine Art in Sculpture in 1961. He moved to Rochester, New York to teach at the School for American Crafts, Rochester Institute of Technology, and established a permanent studio in the area which would remain active for almost 60 years.

In 1963, Castle pioneered the use of stack lamination, enabling him to compose volumes without being constrained by the inherent limitations of his signature material, wood. He soon gained international recognition and was included in key exhibitions, including the 1964 Triennale di Milano and the seminal touring show Objects USA (1969) which began at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. During the last decade of his life, Castle achieved some of his most ambitious work of his career by combining the laminating process with 21st century digital technology and realizing works in cast-bronze, which had been a lifelong aspiration.

Castle was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including four grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, three honorary degrees, a Visionaries of the American Craft Movement Award from the American Craft Museum (1994), the American Craft Council Gold Medal (1997), Master of the Medium Award from The James Renwick Alliance of National Museum of American Art (1999), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2007).

His works can be found in the permanent collections of more than 40 museums and cultural institutions worldwide, including: Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN; Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Quebec; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Castle died in 2018 in Rochester, NY.

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Caligari’s Mistress’s Desk and Chair, 1990

Oak, mahogany, ebony and mahogany veneer, aniline-dyed and acrylic-painted gesso, leather
Desk: 34.5 x 77 x 36 inches / 87.6 x 195.6 x 91.4 cm
Chair: 30 x 22 x 23 inches / 76.2 x 55.9 x 58.4 cm
Signed and dated
FB30315

Motown, 2016

Stained ash
34.25 x 65 x 40 inches
87 x 165.1 x 101.6 cm
FB24015

Resonance, 2013

Stained ash
33 x 65 x 34 inches
83.8 x 165.1 x 86.4 cm
Unique
FB27449

No Slouch, 2013

Stained ash
30 x 76 x 27 inches
76 x 193 x 69 cm
Edition of 8
FB29239

Flow Desk, 2009

Stained cherry
34 x 65 x 26.5 inches
86.4 x 165.1 x 67.3 cm
Unique
FB23985

Black Widow, 2007

Polychromed fiberglass
31 x 56 x 37 inches
78.7 x 142.27 x 94 cm
Edition of 8
FB14964

Dem Bones, 2007

Polychromed Fiberglass
23.39 x 70.63 x 44.49 inches
59.4 x 179.4 x 113 cm
Edition of 8
FB21414

Triad Chair, 2006

Fiberglass with silver leaf
37 x 36 x 34 inches
94 x 91.4 x 86.4 cm
Edition of 8
FB17736

In God We Trust, 1964

Oak, leather
42.5 x 28 x 46 inches
108 x 71.1 x 116.8 cm
Signed and inscribed: W.C. 64 IN GOD WE TRUST
Unique
FB27877

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