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Last Works Created By Wendell Castle Featured at Nelson-Atkins


               Sculptures Installed Inside and Outside Museum

Kansas City, MO. June 12, 2018– Wendell Castle: Shifting Vocabularies, an exhibition of the latest and last works created by Castle, will be shown at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City beginning June 23. Castle, hailed as the most important postwar American furniture designer, died in January at the age of 85. Wendell Castle: Shifting Vocabularies includes five large works in the Bloch Building and four on the lawn of the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.

“Wendell Castle constantly pursued new ways of approaching art, making major conceptual leaps in the worlds of sculpture, design and craft,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “He was a master at articulating a presence in a void.”

Castle, whose first work in an exhibition was shown at the Nelson-Atkins in 1960, considered form and function equally, defying categorization by generating creations that skirted the boundaries of both art and furniture. His work, intentionally enigmatic, could be a chair from one perspective and a sculpture from another.

“Wendell Castle was an innovator who turned furniture into an art form and an experience,” said Stefanie Kae Dlugosz-Acton, Assistant Curator, Architecture, Design & Decorative Arts. “The strength of his work lies in subtlety, and there’s a coyness about it that’s so interesting. The organic nature of his art is a clear response to both materials and form.”

Born in Emporia, Kansas in 1932, Castle is considered the father of the art furniture movement, and he continually pushed boundaries during his prolific career of more than 60 years. Trained as an industrial designer and sculptor at the University of Kansas, Castle moved to New York in the early 1960s to teach at the School of American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He set up a studio in nearby Scottsville, and began his professional career making sculptural furniture with a chainsaw. Castle developed a stack lamination process, allowing him to create virtually any shape out of wood.

Castle published 10 Adopted Rules of Thumb in 1996, which served as creative advice both for him and other artists. The list included “If you are in love with an idea, you are no judge of its beauty or value,” “The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones,” and “If you hit the bullseye every time, the target is too near.” He rarely let his imagination, or technology, stop him.

For a 2016 exhibition of his work at the Rochester Institute, Castle wrote: “I invent, distort, deform, exaggerate, compound, and confuse as I see it. I obey only my own instincts, which often I do not understand myself. I often draw things I do not understand, but am secure in the knowledge that they may at some point become clear and meaningful.”

Wendell Castle: Shifting Vocabularies closes Jan. 20, 2019.

Photo credit: Kevin Rowland

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The museum, which strives to be the place where the power of art engages the spirit of community, opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds. The museum is an institution that both challenges and comforts, that both inspires and soothes, and it is a destination for inspiration, reflection and connecting with others.

The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of nearly 40,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are Wednesday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday/Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission to the museum is free to everyone. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.

For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:

Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art