A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

Wendell Castle – My Thoughts on It

January 21, 2013

I think when we are born, we are all given these containers, and we are told that during our lifetime we are all supposed to fill them up as we desire. These containers each have a different label, like love, wealth, work, success, and on and on. Once we fill one container and it overflows, then we don’t want to bother with it anymore. It’s like our soul is already saturated by the experience. Our soul has learned whatever it had to learn from filling up the container and wants to move onto the next experience and fill up the next container. I think maybe that’s why so many times we see these people who seem to have everything. For instance, we see the examples amongst the movie stars. It’s like their containers of fame and wealth and success get so filled up and get so overflown that they can not take any of it anymore and they need to move onto the next new experience, to their next container. This must be why movie stars create their own self-inflicted wounds – just so that they can learn through pain and the experience of it all. Each of these movie stars is like a bird who is experiencing flying higher and higher, and at some point, it’s so overwhelmed by the height of his flight that it cannot possibly fly any higher. So the bird voluntarily self-destructs so that it can crash.

What does this have to do with Wendell Castle’s art? I’ll tell you. What amazes me about his exhibition is that Wendell Castle is eighty years old, and he is still creative, still ambitious and enthusiastic. He does not think, “Life is already over, so why even bother to create anymore?” What old age means to everyone is to rest assured that at this point of your life, all your containers are full and are overflowing.

Iis actually very difficult to create a piece of furniture which could also be considered a piece of art like Wendell does at his ripe old age. Being a gallery owner for years, I came across so many artists who made the effort to create their furniture in such an artistic way so their work could fit into an art gallery and be well recognized as great art pieces. But this is a very hard task to achieve. The most amazing thing about Wendell Castle is that at his age, when all of his peers’ containers are all full and they have put lids on them and consider their jobs done and are resting, he still has room to fill up in his containers. Wendell still has a zest for life and is still hungry to fly high and to experience more height, and that is a very rare, wonderful thing.


The American designer Wendell Castle is known for his idiosyncratic, organic and slightly surreal furniture, which he has been producing in laminated wood, plastic and other materials since the 1960s, and which is highly collectible. Castle, who turned 80 in 2012, showed his work at Design Miami last month, and today his exhibition “A New Environment” opens at Friedman Benda in Chelsea. (Another Castle show, “Volumes and Voids,” is on view just upstairs from Friedman Benda at the Barry Friedman Gallery through Jan. 26.)

The exhibition’s centerpiece is a massive, arresting environment of stack-laminated, carved wood that is rasp-finished and stained black. It comprises a modular platform, three sculptural chairs, a totemlike structure studded with LEDs and a cantilevered spiral stair that leads to a podlike chamber, lined in flokati carpet, which offers snug lounge seating for one, complete with reading light, shelf and several openings to let in light and air. It’s kind of a treehouse for grown-ups — rich ones, that is. At this writing, the price of the environment had not been set, but Castle said that it would likely be in the vicinity of a $1 million. Read more: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/art-house-wendell-castle/


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