PARIS.- Every angle of a Wendell Castle piece reveals new information. Viewed from afar, these hybrid forms seem to defy categorization. The voluminous organic curves that appear to grow from the floor itself are at once inviting and perplexing what is our relation to the piece?
In his latest series, Leap of Faith, Wendell Castle revisits the paradoxical relationship of formal innovation to function, continuing his exploration of stack-lamination, a technique that simultaneously acknowledges the inherent characteristics of the material while creating boundless work, surprising sculptural pieces, devoid of any pre-conceived notions of form.
Leap of Faith capitalizes on Castles most recent trajectory incorporating increasingly complex volumes into his additive process. As he explains, at the beginning of my career I did it the way a sculptor would do it, like carving it out of a big lump of wood. But since that big lump of wood wasnt readily available, I constructed a lump of wood using stack-lamination. This early interest in building volumes by gluing together multiple timbers into large, monolithic blocks is taken to a new level as today, he further joins these blocks into large, multi-dimensional bodies. The recent works reveal greater scale and new forms that, despite their often-organic shapes, would be impossible in nature.
Although the functionality of the pieces is often obscured by the flowing complexity of their forms, the consistent wood surfaces, fastidious craftsmanship of the lamination, and interconnectedness of the design, allows each work to retain its identity as a singular piece of furniture.
Wendell Castles work is recognized for its sardonic sense of humour and uniquely sculptural use of materials. He has continually reinvented himself for half a century, approaching 80 years old with no signs of slowing down. Often credited as the founding father of the American Crafts movement, and the Art furniture movement, changing the way we view furniture and expanding the possibilities of design and art, Castle has redesigned sculpture and design by seamlessly fusing the two into one discipline. Born in Kansas in 1932, Wendell Castle received a B.F.A. from the University of Kansas in Industrial Design in 1958 and an M.F.A. in Sculpture, graduating in 1961. He moved to Rochester, New York to teach at the School of American Craftsmen and established a permanent studio in the area, which is still operating today.
The artist creates unique pieces that often go beyond the traditional boundaries of design, placing him in a niche that has puzzled those wanting to make a specific distinction between designers and sculptors. His furniture designs for residential clients, public spaces and a number of churches represent a unique exploration of the qualities and possibilities of wood and fibreglass, experienced at a high level of craftsmanship.
He is now amongst the pantheon of great contemporary designers, whose work can be found in the permanent collections of over 40 museums and cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Modern Art in New York and The White House, Washington.