For Friedman Benda’s participation in TEFAF Online 2021, the gallery presents ambitious works by three groundbreaking voices: Wendell Castle, Raphael Navot, and Faye Toogood. These distinct practices share in the ability to distill sculptural thought into a functional object in order to achieve new vocabularies of form—combining fine craftsmanship and a commitment to the authenticity of their chosen materials. Each piece is representative to a larger body of work and serves as a reference to a context that is active and charts new territory. Bringing these divergent narratives in dialogue with each other, this microcosm reflects on a unique moment in the field today.
Wendell Castle, Motown, 2016
Considered the father of the American Studio Furniture Movement, the late Wendell Castle is one of the most influential figures in the field. Trained as a sculptor, Castle introduced new ways of thinking about and making furniture, creating a new vocabulary that redefined the field. Motown displays the key elements that marked Castle’s celebrated six-decade career: his pioneering use of stack lamination technique allowing him to work with volumes in wood, complexity of composition and excellence in craftsmanship. Motown (2016) is part of Castle’s famed “Misfit” series, in which he revisited his compositions and reassembled two disparate parts into new synthesis, signaling Castle’s precept that one should never accept things as they appear at first glance. Motown has not been on view since its appearance in Castle’s solo exhibition “Wendell Castle: Shifting Vocabularies” (2018-19) at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.
Raphael Navot, Acrostic (Encompass), 2020
Paris-based multidisciplinary designer Raphael Navot identifies himself as a “non-industrial designer”, whose reinterpretation of traditional craftsmanship and focus on exquisite materials earned him international recognition. After graduation from the Design Academy Eindhoven, Navot embarked on his career designing David Lynch’s nightclub Silencio (2011) in Paris. He has since collaborated with some of the world’s outstanding craftspeople to explore the nuances of texture, form, palette, and material. This is the first time we reveal Acrostic (Encompass) as it was meant to be shown at TEFAF 2021, displaying his signature sculptural forms with a heightened sense for natural materials.
Faye Toogood, Roly-Poly Chair / Moon, 2016
A polymath who works in a diverse range of disciplines including fashion, architecture, product and studio design, London-based Faye Toogood is one of the most influential designers today. Toogood’s career is marked by the discrete bodies of work titled Assemblages, each of which conjures a unique world of interrelated ideas, materials, processes and aesthetics. Roly-Poly Chair / Moon is part of her Assemblage 5, which was inspired by a visit to Henri Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence. The Roly-Poly chair is one of the most recognizable designs of the past 10 years, which Toogood explored in multiple materials. The silver nitrate finish explores ancient animist notions of the moon through a personal lens. Examples of Roly-Poly chairs in different finishes are part of key museum collections worldwide, including Baltimore Museum of Art, Denver Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.