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Table with Gloves and Keys

Wendell Castle, American, born 1932

Geography:
Made in Rochester, New York, United States, North and Central America

Date:
1980

Medium:
Mahogany

Dimensions:
33 1/8 x 40 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches (84.1 x 102.9 x 39.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
2001-15-1

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Mrs. Robert L. McNeil, Jr., 2001

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Additional information:
  • PublicationGifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    By the mid-1960s Wendell Castle achieved a new, distinctive furniture style that was inspired by the sculptural forms of Wharton Esherick's furniture and interior designs and by the older artist's rebellion against the formal and conceptual rigidity of machine-made objects. To make his furniture, Castle drew upon the technical skills and aesthetic ideas about architecture, design, and sculpture he had learned in college. By laminating large blocks of wood together, he developed a vocabulary of pods, scooped volumes, sinuously curved edges, and thin, cantilevered planes that he used to create sculptural furniture unlike any ever made before. These pieces were widely exhibited and brought the artist national and international acclaim.

    By the mid-1970s, however, Castle's attention had begun to shift toward more traditional aspects of woodworking. His exploration of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American furniture, sparked by the Bicentennial in 1976, signaled a new interest in the historical styles and technical refinement of the furniture and decorative arts of ages past. He began carving objects illusionistically, such as a wooden umbrella in an umbrella stand or a full-sized overcoat hanging from a coat tree.

    Table with Gloves and Keys of 1980 perfectly exemplifies this major turning point in Castle's career. On the top of a freely interpreted American Federal-style half-round table, elegantly constructed using traditional cabinetmaking techniques, the artist carved a pair of fur-lined gloves and a set of keys. The objects, however, are not colored or finely detailed to complete the illusion. Therefore, the deception is not total, nor was it intended to be. Instead, the expertise with which the gloves and keys are carved stands as a tribute to Castle's mastery of his art.

    Three versions of the table were made, each slightly different in the placement and definition of the objects. Although they were not intended to be functional, the owner of this example placed it in her home as a hall table, adding another layer of content to the witty deception. Darrel Sewell, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary (2002), p. 149.


* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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