Copper in the Arts

October 2015

New Works by Wendell Castle Unveiled at Columbus Circle in NYC

Wendell Castle's newest public sculptureWendell Castle's newest public sculpture at Columbus Circle in New York, NY.

Photograph courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design. 

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) and the City Department of Transportation’s Art Program unveiled two new public works by Wendell Castle on Oct. 27. Acting as both sculptures and outdoor public seating, the newly created bronze works, Wandering Mountain (2014) and Temptation (2014) serve as an introduction for the public to Wendell Castle Remastered, the first museum exhibition to examine the digitally crafted works of Wendell Castle, an acclaimed figure of the American art furniture movement.

In this solo exhibition, on view through February 28, 2016, Castle takes inspiration from the first decade of his own artistic production to create a new body of work that revisits his groundbreaking achievements of the 1960s through a contemporary lens. Though best-known for his work in wood, Castle has also experimented in the past with fiberglass, bronze and steel. Most recently, he has embraced digital technologies and revisited these materials, creating larger, more complex forms, including a new series of cast bronze works for indoor and outdoor use.

Castle has long been interested in how his work can engage outdoor and public spaces. During the sixties and seventies he frequently photographed his new furniture pieces out-of-doors to document them in nature. Throughout his career, he has created sculptures that double as public artworks, including M (1971) for Marine Midland; Twist (1972—1973), a community sculpture; and Unicorn Family (c. 2011), an outdoor living room installed at the Memorial Art Gallery, all in Rochester, New York. The towering heights of Wandering Mountain make its presence imposing in a way that creates the dynamism necessary for outdoor works, while the holes that occupy the seats of both sculptures allow for condensation to drain away. Although Wandering Mountain and Temptation were not designed as public artworks, they take their place in the community of New York during this installation.

Both cast-bronze sculptures are made in the vocabulary of Castle’s most recent body of work, that is comprised of varying combinations of seed pods—like those seen on Temptation—and cones—found on Wandering Mountain. These forms emphasize his interest in nature, which consistently influences his furniture.

Castle’s bronze works—these included—are made between his own studio in upstate New York and Carpenter's Workshop, a studio space north of Paris dedicated to traditional artisanship. The metalworking is done in France, however, Castle creates full-size plugs in urethane foam that serve as the basis for the prototype, which is then cast to create a mold for the final work. The plug is made using the same stack-lamination techniques as the wooden pieces, rough-cut and carved by Castle’s computer-numerical-control (CNC) machine, and given a surface finish by hand. Then, Carpenters Workshop Gallery makes a prototype based on this plug, commissions the casting out of house, and completes the surface finishing and refining to Castle’s specifications. The surface of Temptation has been incised with repeating lines in a diagonal cross-hatch pattern, which gave the work a unique surface texture after casting.

“When touring Wendell Castle Remastered our visitors no doubt will wonder what it feels like to actually sit in a Wendell Castle work of art,” said Ronald T. Labaco, MAD’s Marcia Docter Senior Curator. “Through the installation of Temptation and Wandering Mountain they will have an opportunity to experience how surprisingly comfortable these sculptural works can be, attesting to his mastery of the medium. The works were also installed with a mind to capture the Columbus Circle monument in the background.”

Resources:

Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY, (212) 299-7777

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