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Wendell Castle     Ghost Clock

Ghost Clock
Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum
purchase made possible by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisitions Program
1985, bleached Honduras mahogany, 86 1/4 x 24 1/2 x 15 in.
© 1985 Wendell Castle

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Beneath Wendell Castle's clever shroud, there is neither a classic grandfather clock nor a statement about time. Castle's magnificent Ghost Clock is a haunting sculpture so still and timeless it suggests eternity. Constructed from laminated and bleached Honduras mahogany, Ghost Clock is a powerful example of trompe l'oeil, a French term that means "to fool the eye." Here, the "drapery" is not soft, supple cloth but beautifully carved wood that suggests muslin in color and texture. What we think we see is, in fact, not what is.