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Wendell Castle
American, 1932 -

Dr. Caligari, 1984
American Sculpture
Curly cherry veneer, ebony and gold-plated brass
92 1/2 in. x 31 1/2 in. x 26 1/2 in. (234.95 cm x 80.01 cm x 67.31 cm), overall

Given in honor of Joan M. Vanden Brul by her family,  88.1

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About the Object

Dr. Caligari is among a series of 13 clocks that Castle made in the 1980s, undertaken at the suggestion of his dealer, who urged him to create a body of work that would challenge the critics’ association of Castle with functional furniture. Castle was particularly interested in visual metaphors suggesting the concept of time. Dr. Caligari, a fanciful exploration of time travel in its tall case rich with connections to traditional grandfather clocks, suggests either a trip to the past in an ancient obelisk, or to the future, in a rocket ship.

The title of the piece was inspired by the angular set design of the German Expressionist film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The clock’s painted interior was intended to suggest the film’s unsettling mood. Castle and his long-time associate Don Sottile developed a smearing technique using India ink over gesso, that gave the painted finish its distinctive feathered edges.

[Gallery label text, 2006]


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