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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© Wendell Castle
American, born 1932

39 x 22 x 19 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection
Gift of Leatrice and Melvin Eagle

Arts of North America

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Wendell Castle has created works that bridge traditional definitions of craft, design, and sculpture.
One-of-a-kind pieces such as this Lectern—with its fluid, curvaceous form—are both functional and sculptural, thereby blurring the boundaries between the genres.

Castle's earliest influence was American woodworker and sculptor Wharton Esherick, whose technical skills and aesthetics, as well as forms and approach to wood, Castle sought to emulate. Soon, Castle would incorporate lamination techniques to achieve what he called a more expressive, ahistorical, and organic approach to furniture. This development was inspired, in part, by his friendship with British furniture maker John Makepeace, who had revived traditional cabinetmaking skills and paired them with a contemporary aesthetic.

Ultimately, Castle developed his own sculptural language that he
has employed to great effect in wood, fiberglass, metal, and plastic.
He continues to create innovative, dynamic furniture, including 2007's
Dem Bones, also in the MFAH collection of decorative arts.