The celebrated American sculptor and designer Wendell Castle (1932-2018) expanded the possibilities of furniture for more than five decades. Since the outset of his prolific career, Castle consistently challenged the traditional boundaries of the functional form.
Though renowned for his superb craftsmanship, Castle was known first and foremost as a wildly imaginative artist, capable of a huge range of organic and expressive forms. His first major breakthrough, in the 1960s, was an original technique for shaping solid, stack-laminated wood. This allowed him to create furniture that was totally liberated from traditional joinery techniques. The Modernism Museum features key works leading up to and including this innovation. On permanent display are the museum’s iconic piano from his series inspired by the film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and Castle’s A New Environment (2013), which incorporates multiple pieces of furniture and a sculptural staircase into a single integrated design.
Castle was born in Kansas and received a BFA from the University of Kansas in Industrial Design and an MFA in sculpture, graduating in 1961. He then moved to Rochester, New York to teach at the School of American Craftsmen and established a permanent studio in the area. Castle passed away in January, 2018. His work is included in the permanent collections of more than fifty museums and cultural institutions around the world, including The Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Smithsonian's American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Detroit Art Institute.