The Abstract Forms of Pablo Picasso & Wendell Castle

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.” – Pablo Picasso

PHILADELPHIA- Wexler Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of important works on paper by Pablo Picasso along side new work by innovative designer/maker Wendell Castle. Show runs December 3, 2011 through February 25, 2012. An opening reception will take place December 3, from 5-8pm.

Tete de Femme (Bloch 321) (1939; Burin printed on Montval laid paper with Vollard watermark, 15x10) by Pablo Picasso

Spanish born painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramicist, Pablo Picasso is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and influential artists of the 20th century. The exhibition will feature a selection of important prints by Picasso, focusing on the master artist’s portraits of women: his muses, models, wives and mistresses. Throughout his life’s work, Picasso’s female subjects inspired a range of stylistic inventions and experimental techniques in portraiture. In these intimate works, the artist’s own complicated desires, fears, hopes and anxieties are exposed.

Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is credited with pioneering “Cubism,” a radical and influential art movement that revolutionized European painting, sculpture and architecture in the early 1900s. Instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, Cubist artworks break-up, analyze and then re-configure their subject from multiple vantage points. The end result is an angular abstraction of the object in an ambiguous space, often representing the emotional state of the subject or its illustrator.

Sun King (2009; Yellowheart with oil finish, 33.25x50.5x30.25) by Wendell Castle

Although Picasso never set foot on U.S. soil, many of America’s most influential and innovative artists regard him as the central figure in modern art. American furniture artist Wendell Castle is no exception. Castle’s abstract sculptural approach to the functional broke the boundaries of the studio furniture world in the late 1960s. His influence remains strong today.

For almost 50 years Wendell Castle’s work has inspired viewers to look at furniture with a new vocabulary stemming from the idea that “art is a form of redemption, a transfiguration of the commonplace.” Superbly crafted and often filled with a sense of whimsy, Castle’s recent pieces deconstruct and reinterpret ideas about function, form, line, color and mass, allowing the work to stand in the worlds of furniture, sculpture and design simultaneously.

Castle’s bold and experimental works can be found in the permanent collections of many prestigious institutions such The Museum Modern of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C., and The Art Institute of Chicago. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including three honorary doctoral degrees, the 1994 “Visionaries of the American Craft Movement” award sponsored by the American Craft Museum, a 1997 Gold Metal from the American Craft Council, and the Modernism Design Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2007.

Fascinated by the notion of challenging traditional labels that categorize art, Wexler Gallery exhibits work that can coexist in the worlds of design, fine art, decorative art and craft. By questioning and challenging the boundaries of these fields, it aims to present functional and non-functional work that consistently celebrates innovation.


Looking for a book on Picasso? Check out Picasso by Picasso: His First Museum Exhibition, 1932.

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