This extremely rare table by American craftsman Wendell Castle (1932-2018) is the only known example of this design. The piece dates from the early 1960s when Castle was primarily working in wood and before he began to utilize the stack-lamination technique as his primary mode of construction.
The base of the table, resting on a square foot, is chip-carved from a series of large blocks which have been joined together and carved back into the form of a stylized tree trunk which spreads into five tapering branches which support a thick square table top formed by laminated planks set on a diagonal with heavily figured grain. Certain areas of the table top where the wood grain is marked by knots and shallow fissures have been inset with aluminum, an incredibly rare feature for Castle’s furniture of this period.
Castle is possibly the most celebrated and revered American woodworker in this country’s history. He received a number of awards and honors over a professional career that spanned over four decades. These include a 1994 “Visionary of the American Craft Movement” and a Gold Medal in 1997, both from the American Craft Council, and a lifetime achievement award for Excellence in Design from the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2007. Castle’s work has been internationally acclaimed and is in the permanent collection of over 40 museums world-wide, including the Art Institute (Chicago), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Smithsonian Institute’s American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).
Castle first began to experiment with laminating and carving blocks of wood in the early 1960s. After receiving his Master’s in 1962, Castle moved to Rochester, New York and served as an instructor, and later an Artist in Residence, at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It was there that he refined and perfected the inventive process of woodworking that he called “stack lamination.” Castle had first discovered the technique as a young boy when he read an article in Popular Mechanics that described how to create a wooden duck decoy using a similar method. However, he did not attempt the process until nearly 30 years later. By creating and assembling pre-sawn wood blocks, rather than carving objects from large single pieces of wood, Castle was free to design and produce practically any biomorphic form he could imagine.
The underside of this table is signed and dated.
Height: 31 ¼ inches (79.4 cm)
Width: 33 ⅞ inches (86 cm)
Depth: 33 ⅞ inches (86 cm)