Wendell Castle - Design New York Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • When asked by a student what his favorite tool was—despite being a woodworker—Wendell Castle answered, “The pencil. The act of drawing is the same as the act of thinking.” For Castle, drawing was the starting point for his designs. He also once said, “I’m not concerned about the practical things that go into most design thinking.” Rather than being burdened with functional considerations, Castle approached furniture design as sculpture; all else could be eliminated in the pursuit of the perfect form. The present chairs perfectly exemplify this approach to furniture design.

    “I invent, distort, deform, exaggerate, compound and confuse as I see it.” Wendell CastleWhile working towards his MFA in Sculpture and searching for a technique that would allow him to realize his drawings, Castle recalled an article he read as a child about how to build a duck decoy. The guide showed how wood could be horizontally cut, stacked, and laminated to form a unique shape. Once the wood was laminated, it could be carved and sanded until the only sign of this process that remained was the encircling stripes of the subsections of wood. New shapes could now be almost extracted from the wood to protrude in strange and unpredictable ways. Castle went on to create a number of works, such as the present lot, empolying this innovative technique and these masterful chairs truly embody his unique design ethos.

    • Provenance

      Phurniture, Inc., New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2004

    • Literature

      Eleanor Dienstag, “Happy birthday, Shop One,” Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, September 24, 1972, one chair illustrated p. 20
      Emily Evans Eerdmans, Wendell Castle, A Catalogue Raisonné 1958-2012, New York, 2014, one chair illustrated p. 97

Property from an Important American Collection


Pair of chairs

Stack-laminated oak.
Each: 31 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 23 in. (80 x 49.5 x 58.4 cm)
Underside of each incised W.C. 67.

Full Cataloguing

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $69,300

Contact Specialist

Benjamin Green
Associate Specialist

Associate Head of Sale

+1 917 207 9090



New York Auction 7 December 2022