Wendell Castle, Too Soon Chair, 2005

Wendell Castle, Too Soon Chair, 2005

In Too Soon, Castle returns to his monumental stack lamination forms of the 1960s and 1970s while subverting a “back-to-basics" approach.

During the last decade of his career, Castle synthesized his material knowledge of carving, finishing, and metal casting with newly available digital technologies of 3D scanning and CNC milling to produce the most herculean works of American furniture design. Although several of his tables and chairs from the 1960s emanate from a tree-like base, Too Soon marks the first instance of Castle using branch-like ramifications to create separate supports for a surface and a seat. This work also explores a new typology for Castle, using cut-out voids to depict negative space.

Wendell Castle (1932-2018), Too Soon Chair, 2005. Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000

Harkening back to his post-modern and trompe l’oeil period, Castle unravels the ways in which form and function undergo a continual metamorphosis. Castle punctuates Too Soon with his signature chip marks which begin at the stack laminated walnut base and wrap around the chair. A scooped seat emerges gracefully from the truncated stump at the center. The chair follows the undulating forms of a landscape before terminating at an exaggerated crest. A cantilevered table radiates outwards, visually anchoring the chair at a whimsical slant. The cavity in the center recalls Castle’s most-cited influences of Henry Moore, Jean Arp, and Constantin Brancusi, who demonstrated an almost tacit knowledge of sculptural form.

Angel of Blind Justice Chair, gift of Carolyn and Robert Springborn to The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, 2012.

Before acquiring Too Soon in 2007, Robert and Carolyn Springborn’s friendship and patronage of Castle extended back to the days at Peter Joseph Gallery. Another seminal work at the cornerstone of the Springborn’s collection was the Angel of Blind Justice chair from the Angel Chairs series (1990-1991) that they gifted in 2012 to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (accession no. 2011.2132). Together these works presided over the Springborn’s home, albeit briefly, tying the lineages of Castle’s career through the decades.


Featured Work: Wendell Castle (1932-2018), Too Soon Chair, 2005. Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000