Tim Byrne Remembers Wendell Castle, Pioneer of American Art Furniture

Tim Byrne Remembers Wendell Castle, Pioneer of American Art Furniture

Back in 2013, I attended The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, which ran a retrospective of Wendell Castle titled “Wandering Forms” showcasing his works from 1959–1979. The pieces in this exhibition were carefully curated for their narrative significance within his work and within the larger context of American art and design.

Almost all the pieces showcased are examples that fundamentally changed the way we see furniture. The indelible influence he had on generations of artists and designers is seen the world over. Wendell was an alchemist who dissolved the barriers that separated the worlds of design and fine art. For over five decades he was instrumental in helping to shape the American studio furniture movement throughout the latter half of the 20th century.

He once said his ideal in furniture is that “it performs some useful function in addition to, I hope, being beautiful” and it’s a principle I have tried to adhere to here at Get Back Inc. I had the pleasure to meet Wendell in person for the first time in 2010 at the ICFF Show in New York City, and he told me he stopped by to see what I had been working on. I had always loved his work and found a sympathetic spirit in his approach to design, but to hear him say he liked my work remains one the most deeply gratifying experiences in my life. We were saddened to read the recent news of his passing.

Below is an excellent profile of Wendell Castle with beautiful examples of his work and reputation.