WENDELL CASTLE (1932–2018)
WENDELL CASTLE (1932–2018)
WENDELL CASTLE (1932–2018)
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WENDELL CASTLE (1932–2018)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more
WENDELL CASTLE (1932–2018)


WENDELL CASTLE (1932–2018)
Unique Extending Dining Table and Set of Eight 'Apollo' Chairs, 1980
stack laminated cherry wood, leather upholstery
the table: 29 ¼ in. (74.3 cm.) high, 97 in. (246.4 cm.) wide, 64 ½ in. (163.8 cm.) deep (fully extended)
73 in. (185.4 cm.) closed
each chair: 29 ¾ in. (75.5 cm.) high, 23 in. (58.4 cm.) wide, 24 in. (60.9 cm.) deep
the table signed and dated Made by D. Sottile and W. Castle on one foot, W. Castle 80 on the other
each chair signed and dated W. Castle 80
Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York
Private Collection, Philadelphia, acquired from the above, 1994
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Where it does so, and is the successful bidder, the fixed fee for taking on the guarantee risk may be netted against the final purchase price.

Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.

Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

Lot Essay

Wendell Castle (1932-2018) was one of the most honored and revered craftsmen in American history. He received innumerable awards, highlighted by the American Craft Council Gold Medal in 1997 and a lifetime achievement award for Excellence in Design from the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2007. Castle’s work is greatly admired and is in the permanent collection of over 40 museums world-wide, including the Art Institute (Chicago), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).

Born and raised in Kansas, Castle was a poor student and full of self-doubt because of being dyslexic, but his sheer creative determination allowed him to overcome this handicap. A turning point came in 1961 while Castle was attending the University of Kansas for his Master of Fine Arts degree, specializing in sculpture. Needing a wooden toolbox, he decided to make, rather than purchase, one. This was the beginning of an almost 60-year career of creating objects in wood that were both practical and sculptural, utilitarian in addition to being true works of art.

Castle moved to Rochester, New York in 1962 where he was appointed an instructor and later an Artist in Residence at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It was there that he refined the innovative process of woodworking that he called “stack lamination.” Castle had first learned of the technique as a young boy when he read an article in Popular Mechanics that described how to create a wooden duck decoy using a similar method. However, he did not attempt the process for nearly 30 years. By creating and assembling pre-sawn wood blocks, rather than carving objects from large single pieces of wood, Castle was free to design and produce practically any biomorphic form he could imagine.

The outstanding dining table offered here, with its eight matching armchairs, aptly demonstrate how Castle perfected the “stack lamination” technique over time. Made of cherry, the table was designed with a carved wooden hinged pivot in order to spread open and allow the insertion of two fan-shaped leaves. The superbly carved double pedestal displays the highly organic sculptural quality that epitomize his finest works. The pedestals, designed to emulate each other while maintaining their own distinctive forms, suggest positive and negative space depending on whether the table is closed or fully extended. Castle was entirely responsible for the design of this unique table and armchairs. He was assisted in the construction of the table by one of his most trusted craftsmen, Don Sottile, who worked with Castle for 23 years and served most of that time as studio director.

Wendell Castle was constantly challenging the limits of the materials he was working with, as well as his imagination. He based his life and career on fourteen “Rules of Thumb.” One was “if you hit the bull’s-eye every time, the target is too near.” Another was “celebrate uncertainty” and a third was “distrust what comes easily.” It was this attitude that drove him to seek excellence throughout his life and in his creations. The masterful dining table and chairs clearly embody Castle’s design ethos.

The dining table and chairs offered here will be included in the next edition of the Wendell Castle catalogue raisonné.

Christie’s would like to thank Don Sottile, Emily Eerdmans, and Wendell Castle Studio for their assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.

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