Upcoming Auctions

Bob Cassily:

Bob Cassilly was born in St. Louis to a homemaker and building contractor (who clearly fostered in his son a deep interest in the properties and uses of cement).  As a young man, Bob followed his talent and spirit that turned into an apprenticeship with sculptor Rudy Torrini. In 1968-69 Cassilly attended, on scholarship, The Cleveland Institute of Art. He received a B.F.A. in sculpture from Fontbonne College, St. Louis (1972-1976), and in 1980 Cassilly graduated Cum Laude with an MFA in sculpture from Fontbonne College, St. Louis. The artist settled in the Lafayette community in the early 1970s working prolifically out of his studio–which is where several of our featured pieces were born. He was soon awarded multiple commissions and would later open a foundry. With the help of Robert Sr., Cassilly’s fine art collection dovetailed into playful urban projects steeped in the fabric of his city’s architecture, design, and history, leading to the opening of Cassilly & Cassilly in 1985. Bob would integrate sculpture and architectural ornamentation to urban landscapes, adding character to buildings and neighborhoods that in turn helped foster civic pride. The company’s goal was to bring sculpture and ornamentation to a mutual conclusion that seemed inseparable, preordained, and wholly natural. Cassilly and Cassilly specialized in the creation of unique sculpture and architectural ornamentation on a large scale–designed to integrate townhouses, offices, and public buildings with their surrounding neighborhoods. In this fashion, over several decades Cassilly served his community as a sculptor of beloved public works, as a cultural entrepreneur/ museum designer and owner, as an overall creative visionary who changed the visual (and thus the creative/ imaginative) landscape of each of the cities, buildings, parks, zoos and shopping malls where he left his mark.

Across his native St. Louis he worked to save our old buildings and/or their important and often fantastical architectural elements to turn his hometown’s neglected and abandoned material treasures into, among other things, elements of our wonderful City Museum (founded within an abandoned department store on Washington Avenue in 1997). His museum mission, “to reawaken the childlike imagination, joy and sense of wonder in all of us” simultaneously served to reawaken interest and respect toward St. Louis’ downtown architectural heritage, ultimately saving a part of the heart of our city from total neglect and demolition.

Bob also created the beloved outdoor red apple chairs in Webster Groves; many massive hippopotamus sculptures for children’s playgrounds in both Central Park and Riverside Park, NYC; the wonderful gigantic cement turtles at St. Louis’ Turtle Park; the whimsical musical lions playing on benches beside the gates of University City; the colossal ancient ruins of the “Escape from Pompeii” ride at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA; the turtles and toads at Lafayette Square Park; the fashionable 1980s style entry pillars at The St. Louis Galleria; et al.  In an extraordinarily active fashion he fully dedicated himself to creating and enhancing the interesting and fun elements of our landscape and along the way whole-heartedly promoted our old-world artisan culture and local history on all levels and to people from all ages and walks of life. Unfortunately, Cassilly was unable to complete his major project in North St. Louis, Cementland.  It also makes so much sense that back in 1972 when visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome it was Bob who acted as ‘first responder’ to Michelangelo’s Pieta’—it was the 23-year-old Cassilly who physically stopped a madman with a hammer from further destroying that Roman masterpiece (coincidentally sculpted when Michelangelo was also 23) before Swiss guards or carabinieri arrived at the chapel.

Built in 1895, the building where Cassilly and Cassilly ran their studio is located at 2655 Lafayette Avenue here in St. Louis. It is from this building where Giovanna Cassilly, Bob’s widow, rescued the abandoned decorative large-scale panels that Link is offering for auction. The studio was in this beautiful and distinctive large one-floor building known for its decorative terra cotta facade (featuring dragons) and a butterfly-themed fence. Unfortunately, this structure is currently in the hands of a ‘developer’ and at high risk for demolition. If YOU would like to help save Cassilly’s studio, a true piece of St. Louis’ material past, PLEASE IMMEDIATELY CALL and/or write to the City of St. Louis Preservation Board at 314-657-3865 and [email protected] and to Bennett Anderson there at [email protected]. Thank you for voicing your opinion and for your kind help toward saving a highlight of our city!

Royce G. Engel:

Royce G. Engel worked as an innovative mechanical engineer over the course of his long career that was spent mostly at General Motors, McDonnell Douglas and Engel Systems (that he founded in 1976). In the midst of those years dedicated to a wide variety of engineering projects, he spent three years as the Director of Technical Research at Herman Miller (1959-1962), an office furniture and residential furniture manufacturer based in Zeeland, Michigan. Engel holds patents as co-inventor for two highly successful furniture product innovations assigned to Herman Miller: the Herman Miller Furniture Comprehensive Storage System Bracket and the the Herman Miller Furniture Dress Strip.

In his innovative and influential position as Technical Center Director, Engel worked at the nexus of Herman Miller furniture prototypes, designs and collections—including those held by Engel himself that Link is proudly offering at auction, including what we believe is Engel’s own original prototype for the Comprehensive Storage System.

The Nelson Comprehensive Storage System uses poles, shelves and specially designed components to make a wall prosper for work, display and storage. Poles, install clips, and slip components had mounting brackets installed on them directly at the factory, and in that fashion, all such components could be changed or re-arranged at any time. This overall wall-based work station could include a mix of desk spaces, file drawers, file bins, organizers, a dictaphone unit, pigeon-holed units, various shelves, mirrored panels, and glass sliding doors over select storage areas. This innovative mid-century work/display/storage system mounts directly on a wall thanks to many specialized bracket pairs—so the entire system would not have come into existence without Engel’s bracket invention (patented 19 June 1962). An original fold-out “CSS Workbook” cleverly demonstrates in a concrete manner (thanks to flip pages) how the wall units could be potentially arranged in a myriad of ways. This iconic mid-century design system is part of the permanent collection of museums and famous collections around the globe including the Vitra Design Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian, et al. The Herman Miller Furniture Dress Strip patent relates to an upholstered assembly with a protective decorative edge strip assembly on upholstered, pre-formed chair shells (patented 25 October 1963).

Despite his brief three-year tenure at Herman Miller, Engel played such an important role in the development of the company that in January of 1962 he was offered a special gift (something offered to only a select few awardees): access to purchase the company’s original stock. Along with George Nelson, Charles Eames and other famous designers and exceptional workers, it was offered to Engel as part of the innovative team at Herman Miller because his “life and talents are so involved in this project.” The stock offered “an additional opportunity to share in the rewards and satisfaction of ownership and in such appreciation of the company’s worth.”

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