Wendell Castle · Progression


Progression explores the working process of world-renowned artist Wendell Castle. The exhibition celebrates Castle’s methodology, which he honed throughout his over 60-year career. Featuring 15 maquettes and two fully realized works in wood, the exhibit invites audiences to explore the artist’s working process. It challenges the typical museum experience by foregrounding not finished works but one phase of their creation.

Widely regarded as the most important postwar American art furniture designer, Wendell Castle’s work defied categorization. His pieces are at once sculpture, design and furniture. Trained as an industrial designer and a sculptor, Castle was part of what is known as the American Studio Craft Movement, which followed World War II.

The maquettes in Progression were integral to Wendell Castle’s studio practice. At the same time, they exert a beauty and presence uniquely their own. They exist now as intimate sculptures, evidencing the touch of the artist. Collectively, they address Castle’s imaginative forms and expressive sensibilities. The maquettes would have eventually been realized as full-scale works.

Progression was organized in concert with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Wendell Castle: Shifting Vocabularies exhibition to celebrate the legacy of an iconic Kansas artist.

Wendell Castle was raised in Emporia, Kansas, and received his BFA and MFA degrees from the University of Kansas. He died in January 2018 at his home in Scottsville, New York, near Rochester. He was 85 years old.

Castle’s works were featured in the 1993 group exhibition A Kansas Contribution: An Exhibition Celebrating the Year of American Craft at the former JCCC Gallery of Art.

On Sept. 20, Stefanie Kae Dlugosz-Acton, Assistant Curator, Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, will speak at the Nerman Museum on Castle’s work. A Third Thursday Visiting Curator, she will speak from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Hudson Auditorium. Her presentation is free and open to the public.