Just In: A Bold Chair by Wendell Castle

November 29, 2017

Straddling the boundary traditionally separating art and design, the unparalleled work of pioneering furniture artist Wendell Castle has continually upended and blurred the distinctions between these two fields. Confounded by the murky, seemingly arbitrary distinctions between art and design, Castle questioned the standards applied to each of these classifications early on in his career. “The general thought then was, if something had a function, it couldn’t be fine art,” Castle once remarked. “That was a dilemma: I didn’t want to give up on sculpture, because I felt it was a higher form of art. But I also didn’t understand why furniture was so low on the totem pole.” Not waiting for an answer as to why art and design remained formally segregated, Castle began creating work that both mystified and delighted critics wishing to place it in a tidy pigeonhole. Castle’s output has consistently resisted categorization.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Wendell Castle, Abilene2008
February 25, 2018 Modern Art & Design Auction

Often dubbed the founding father of the Art Furniture Movement and a strong proponent of the American Crafts Movement, Castle’s elegant, but bold sculptural furniture works engage biomorphic, organic forms.  They are at once whimsical and functional. Crafted from superb, exotic hardwoods and industrial materials, including plastics, metals, and veneers, Castle’s sculptural approach to furniture lends it an uncommon luminousness. “My vocabulary has always been organic; sometimes I think of it as actually growing from a seed/idea. Hence, my ideas actually grow into something. Each idea has other ideas which grow from it,” the artist once explained.


Wendell Castle, Abilene2008
February 25, 2018 Modern Art & Design Auction

In the February 25, 2018 Modern Art & Design Auction, LAMA is pleased to offer Castle’s Abilene chair (2008), a recent work that illustrates the designer’s reverance to function and form working in unison.  With its lyrical, undulating lines and over-the-top, biomorphic form, the Abilene chair is an exceptional example of Castle’s signature style.  His use of stainless steel for a fluid design shows his mastery of the craft, and demonstrates his lasting impact upon both the fields of design and sculpture.

Lot Information:

Lot 144
Wendell Castle
Studio, 2008
Stainless steel
#4 of 8
30.5″ x 29″ x 52″
Provenance: Barry Friedman, Ltd., New York, New York; Private Collection, Los Angeles, California
Estimate: $80,000-$120,000
February 25, 2018 Modern Art & Design Auction

Fison, Lizzie. “‘Furniture Is Still a Relative Bargain’ Compared to Art, Says Artist Wendell Castle.” De Zeen, 5 May 2017,

Jow, Tiffany. “Wendell Castle: Agent of Change.” Surface, 19 June 2017,

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James Goodwin says:

How wonderful to be able to present this fabulous functional sculpture.

Wendell’s statement: “Each idea has other ideas which grow from it”
resonates to Emerson’s 19th century observation: “For that which is made
instructs how to make better.”

As the saying goes: Keep on keeping’ on!