Wendell Castle, aerial priest of the American flat ability movement, already wrote: “If you hit the bullseye every time, the ambition is too near.” That actuality said, admirers of Castle, who died in January at the age of 85, would be hard-pressed to adduce any of the master’s creations that weren’t agrarian successes, decidedly the appliance for which he became acclaimed and was consistently alleged “biomorphic” by some and “baffling” by others.
There were bouncing settees hand-carved out of ample and laminated copse (a Castle leitmotif), a blithely corrective of drawers that appears to be active beyond the allowance on animal legs, fiberglass chairs shaped like molars, and a board with a sharp, addled contour that brings to mind—to my mind, at least—a scythe acid through a acreage of aureate in Castle’s built-in Kansas. If his extravagant, awfully artificial designs seemed to be added adept than they were practical, a common analytical observation, Castle was accomplished with that, back he approached appliance and lighting, whether fabricated of wood, cement, fiberglass, metal, or stone, with the eye of the artisan he had been in his youth. As he explained in a 2012 articulate history, “I anticipate the alone acumen that I could accord up carve and accomplish appliance is because I anticipation the cant was the same.”
The table actualization a fan-shaped inlay.
Photo: Courtesy of Wexler Gallery
At The Salon Art Design, which opens tonight at New York’s Park Avenue Armory and runs through November 12, a accumulation of awful advantageous but auspiciously abstract Castle furnishings, dating from 1980, are the stars of Philadelphia’s Wexler Gallery booth, A-5. One is an egg-shaped double-pedestal dining table topped with inlaid stripes that afford out from an askance axis point like an accessible fan, and the others are eight analogous armchairs that accompany to apperception Frank Lloyd Wright’s chairs yet are so anfractuous and extruded in actualization they ability as able-bodied be fabricated from pulled taffy rather than blooming wood. The amount for the nine pieces, I was told, is “in the high $300,000s.”
The table’s carved base.
Photo: Courtesy of Wexler Gallery
“I would altercate that they are some of the best arresting pieces I’ve had the account of presenting,” Lewis Wexler, the gallery’s co-owner and a Christie’s alumnus, told me as he was ambience up the berth for The Salon’s aperture day, abacus that this accurate set was ahead endemic by an bearding Philadelphia collector. “Wendell did variations on these pieces during his career, not a lot, but they are out there—most of them in clandestine hands, so rarely do you anytime see them appear on the market.”
Though Castle’s bizarre silhouettes instantly transfix, Wexberg credibility out that the designer, who lived in and formed in Scottsville, New York, was a ability back it came to accumulation intimate, agreeable details. “The atramentous axis point, the bifold pedestals of ample and laminated copse that are carved like timberline trunks, the continued triangles that fan out beyond the tabletop,” he enthuses. “The materials, copse and leather, are balmy and inviting, and the calibration is wonderful, too. Combine all those things and the set is absolutely a masterpiece.”
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