Wendell Castle: New Vocabulary

It is hard to believe that nearly two years have passed since Wendell Castle (1932-2018), also called ‘the Dean of American Design’ passed. The presence of his six-decade super productive career has strongly been felt in many design events of the past year. This evening I attended the opening night of Friedman Benda’s new solo show ‘Wendell Castle: A New Vocabulary,’ which presents spectacular pieces created in both the early and later phases of his career. 

This small, gem-like exhibition focuses on Castle’s innovative approach to crafting furniture. He can be credited for giving furniture the identity of organic and abstract sculptures, which he sculpted by direct carving stacked blocks of wood, integrating furniture and art. ‘My vocabulary,’ he often said, ‘has always been organic.’ In fact, his language was so organic that he had never made ‘anything that was to go against the wall; everything was to be seen in the round, and so it had been my way of thinking all along’ he told Robert Brown who conducted an oral history interview with Castle in 1981.
The exhibition demonstrates that carving stack lamination had become Castle’s trademark and legacy, the technique he kept going back to, while always pushing the envelope when moving forward with his career. In the last decade of his life, he had revisited this method, but added digital technological advancements that allowed him to realize super ambitious forms that he was not able to achieve when employing hand-carving techniques. 

The exhibition will close on October 12th. 

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