Many Studio Furniture makers have tried to cross the divide between what is considered studio craft and what is considered fine art. Many furniture admirers may consider a particular piece of furniture or work by a particular person as fine art. Indeed a furniture maker himself of herself may consider their work to be fine art. However the only real indicator if a piece is considered a work of fine art is if it is accepted by the fickle community of the fine art world. Many great pieces of furniture, which I myself consider fine art by such notable names as Judy Kensley McKie and John Cederquist, are however considered as merely craft by the fine art world. There are also craftsmen who not only make furniture but also produce purely aesthetical sculptural and works of art such as Paul Evans.
Wendell Castle is perhaps the only craftmen that has been able to bridge the gap between fine art and craft furniture. Castle considers himself as a sculptor. However, it wasn’t until later in his career in the late 1970s and 1980s that Castle was able to make the leap from craftsmen to fine artist with his Tromp l’oeil furniture such as “Ghost Clock”(Shown Above) and “Chair with Sport Coat”. These pieces of “furniture” however are either partially functional or completely non-functional. It would seem that a pre-requisite to be considered a piece of furniture would be its ability to function. Castle even remarked upon the irony of the situation in the book “Furniture by Wendell Castle” when he explained that he made furniture that was sculptural in the 60s but it wasnandrsquo;t until he made sculptures that resemble furniture that he was accepted into this elite community of artists.
So is Castle any different than Paul Evans, who enjoyed both the craft of furniture intermixed with his passion for sculpture or is Castle in a different category since he addressed the issue of furniture in his sculptures? I will leave that for you to decide.