60 years of Wendell Castle presented in New York

A posthumous exhibition explores the legacy of American designer Wendell Castle and his six-decade career, showcased at TEFAF by Friedman Benda.

Wendell Castle, September Song, 2017. Courtesy Friedman Benda, photo Timothy Doyon

“My vocabulary has always been organic; sometimes I think of it as actually growing from a seed or idea. My ideas actually grow into something.” These words by Wendell Castle, stated in 2017, a year before his death last year, define the aesthetic for which the father of the American art-furniture movement came to be known.

From 2-7 May, as part of TEFAF New York’s Spring edition, Friedman Benda marks its inaugural participation at the fair with a posthumous exhibition by Castle, titled “A New Vocabulary”. Curator Glenn Adamson, a senior scholar at Yale University and the former director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, has put together a display spanning the legendary designer’s 60-year career, highlighting the forms and volumes he innovated with, while pointing to pioneering techniques such as Castle’s stack lamination.

Wendell Castle, Stool, 1963. Courtesy Friedman Benda and Wendell Castle Inc. Photo Daniel Kukla
Wendell Castle, Stool, 1963. Courtesy Friedman Benda and Wendell Castle Inc. Photo Daniel Kukla

The exhibition ranges from seminal works that blurred the lines between sculpture and furniture, including the Walnut Sculpturefrom the late 1950s, to pieces produced later in his career, which incorporated new materials and computer-aided design. This will be one of the few times that some of Castle’s formative work will be seen outside of a museum or public collection, and fans will be spoilt to see the sculptural Deskof 1964 sit within the same space as his cantilevered seating,Happiness, of 2015.

Castle, who died at the beginning of 2018 at the age of 85, has work included in over 50 museums and cultural institutions worldwide. Amongst many other awards and honours received during his career, in 1994 he won a Visionaries of the American Craft Movement Award from the American Craft Museum, and in 2007 was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Wendell Castle: A new vocabulary
TEFAF, New York
Opening dates:
3–7 May 2019
Park Avenue Armory, NY
Friedman Benda

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