My recent trip to the Wendell Castle: Wandering Forms exhibition at the Aldrich Museum in Richfield Connecticut proved to be extremely impressive. The show covers works from 1959-1979, and includes come of Wendell’s most well known works. Of the pieces included I was especially interested in the relationship between his work in hardwood compared to his more recent work in fiberglass and plastics.
This piece above, Wall table No. 16 displays Castle’s talent as a furniture designer. The piece is exquisitely crafted and the form appears to be well considered. The table flows off the wall and is planted to the floor by a sturdy base. It’s as if the viewer is seeing a revealed section of a larger form that continues past the confines of the room. Not seen form afar, there is a subtle texture that covers this piece. It is consistant yet randomly spontaneous. This tactile, rasp-like effect has inspired me to investigate texture in my recent cuttings on the CNC router.
In sharp comparison, Benny Floor Lamp appears artificial and distanced from human hands. I am very interested in the bold use of color and light in this piece. It is playful and activates it’s environment in a unique way.
Castle’s transition from forms constructed in wood to forms in fiberglass causes me to reflect on my urge to investigate new materials in my own work. Sometimes, being in the studio makes it hard to remember that all furniture is not made of wood. Although, one could argue that it was Wendell Castle’s mastery of woodworking that developed his strength as a progressive three dimensional designer. Once mastered, a craft can become a powerful knowledge redirected into new and innovative directions.