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Harry Bertoia

American, Italian, 1915-1978

Sculptor, furniture and jewelry designer, graphic artist and metalsmith, Harry Bertoia was one of the great cross-disciplinarians of 20th-century art and design and a central figure in American mid-century modernism. Among furniture aficionados, Bertoia is known for his chairs such as the wire-lattice Diamond chair (and its variants such as the tall-backed Bird chair) designed for Knoll Inc. and first released in 1952.

As an artist, he is revered for a style that was his alone. Bertoia’s metal sculptures are by turns expressive and austere, powerful and subtle, intimate in scale and monumental. All embody a tension between the intricacy and precision of Bertoia’s forms and the raw strength of his materials: steel, brass, bronze and copper.

Fortune seemed to guide Bertoia’s artistic development. Born in northeastern Italy, Bertoia immigrated to the United States at age 15, joining an older brother in Detroit. He studied drawing and metalworking in the gifted student program at Cass Technical High School. Recognition led to awards that culminated, in 1937, in a teaching scholarship to attend the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Bloomfield Hills, one of the great crucibles of modernism in America

At Cranbrook, Bertoia made friendships — with architect Eero Saarinen, designers Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Schust Knoll and others — that shaped the course of his life. He taught metalworking at the school, and when materials rationing during World War II limited the availability of metals, Bertoia focused on jewelry design. He also experimented with monotype printmaking, and 19 of his earliest efforts were bought by the Guggenheim Museum.

In 1943, he left Cranbrook to work in California with the Eameses, helping them develop their now-famed plywood furniture. (Bertoia received scant credit.) Late in that decade, Florence and Hans Knoll persuaded him to move east and join Knoll Inc. His chairs became and remain perennial bestsellers. Royalties allowed Bertoia to devote himself full-time to metal sculpture, a medium he began to explore in earnest in 1947.

By the early 1950s Bertoia was receiving commissions for large-scale works from architects — the first came via Saarinen — as he refined his aesthetic vocabulary into two distinct skeins. One comprises his “sounding sculptures” — gongs and “Sonambient” groupings of rods that strike together and chime when touched by hand or by the wind. The other genre encompasses Bertoia’s naturalistic works: abstract sculptures that suggest bushes, flower petals, leaves, dandelions or sprays of grass. 

As you will see on these pages, Harry Bertoia was truly unique; his art and designs manifest a wholly singular combination of delicacy and strength.

Find vintage Harry Bertoia sculptures, armchairs, benches and other furniture and art on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$1,732
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Iconic Designs from Harry Bertoia
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
Diamond Chair
Diamond Chair
Harry Bertoia Side Chair
Harry Bertoia Side Chair
Bertoia Bird Chair Ottoman
Bertoia Bird Chair Ottoman
Harry Bertoia Bench 400y 410y
Harry Bertoia Bench 400y 410y
Harry Bertoia, Monumental Sonambient Sculpture
By Harry Bertoia
Located in New York, NY
Harry Bertoia, Monumental Sonambient Sculpture, USA, circa 1970's. Inconel on brass plate, comprised of 49 rods in a 7 x 7 layout with cattails, unmarked. Measures H: 81, W: 16, D: 1...
Category

Late 20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Harry Bertoia

Materials

Metal

Set of 6 Harry Bertoia for Knoll Wire Side Chairs Tan Leather Mid Century Modern
By Knoll, Harry Bertoia
Located in Keego Harbor, MI
A set of 6 Harry Bertoia for Knoll wire side chairs. A wonderful set of clean, chic Bertoia wire side chairs featuring lovely beige leather seat ...
Category

Mid-20th Century Mid-Century Modern Harry Bertoia

Materials

Chrome

Harry Bertoia Mid-Century Modern Vintage Set of Four White Dining Chairs, 1950s
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Vienna, AT
A Harry Bertoia Mid-Century Modern vintage set of 4 dining chair or side chair, which show a white coated metal construction. This iconic design by Harry Bertoia was designed in the...
Category

Mid-20th Century European Mid-Century Modern Harry Bertoia

Materials

Metal

Set of 6 Bertoia Wire Chairs with Original Yellow Cushions by Knoll
By Harry Bertoia, Knoll
Located in Hanover, MA
Set of six newly restored wite Bertoia wire chairs model 420-2 produced by Knoll circa 1961 including original yellow Knoll seat cushions. These chairs have been freshly powder coate...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Harry Bertoia

Materials

Steel

Mid-Century Slat Bench by Harry Bertoia for Knoll
By Knoll, Harry Bertoia
Located in BROOKLYN, NY
Wonderful mid-century slat bench or coffee table by Harry Bertoia for Knoll, 1950s. Stained ash. Early original Bowtie Label (Knoll Associates) that predates Knoll International. Has...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Harry Bertoia

Materials

Steel

Vintage Ergonomic Harry Bertoia Lounge Bird Chair for Knoll
By Knoll, Harry Bertoia
Located in Antwerp, BE
Original Vintage Harry Bertoia Bird chair for Knoll 1960s with an original Knoll fabric flame red slip cover on a metal white and black coated frame.The High Wingback chair is in ori...
Category

1960s German Mid-Century Modern Vintage Harry Bertoia

Materials

Metal, Wire

Harry Bertoia for Knoll Wire Diamond Chair Mid Century Modern
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Keego Harbor, MI
Discover sculptural sophistication with this Harry Bertoia for Knoll Wire Diamond Chair, a true Mid Century Modern gem. Its intricate and airy wire frame is a triumph of space-defyin...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Harry Bertoia

Materials

Steel

Early and Rare 'Pre-Production' Harry Bertoia Small Diamond Chair for Knoll
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Cincinnati, OH
Early production small diamond chair with a very usual double wire seat configuration, the typical wire structure is in place but an additional larger space...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Harry Bertoia

Materials

Wire

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Creators Similar to Harry Bertoia

More Harry Bertoia Designs
Diamond Chair
Diamond Chair
Average Price
$2,407
Number Available
40
Diamond Chair
By Harry Bertoia
Materials
Metal, Fabric, Steel
Styles
Mid Century Modern
To fully understand the design of Harry Bertoia’s (1915–78) 1952 Diamond chair — an austere and photogenic work of woven steel wire, the intricately sculptural wings of which create the illusion of sitting on air — it helps to go back to his college days: In 1937, the Italian-born artist and designer, who emigrated to Detroit at age 15, earned a scholarship to Cranbrook Academy of Art, the illustrious Michigan design school that attracted such luminaries as Florence Knoll, Eero Saarinen and C...
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Harry Bertoia Side Chair
Harry Bertoia Side Chair
Average Price
$2,227
Number Available
20
Harry Bertoia Side Chair
By Harry Bertoia
Materials
Metal, Steel
Styles
Mid Century Modern
When Hans and Florence Knoll invited Italian-American artist Harry Bertoia (1915–78) to move from California to Pennsylvania in 1950 to work with their new design firm, they did not ask him to develop any specific pieces but instead to investigate whatever interested him. That open-ended experimentation led to the 1952 Bertoia Side chair, which was fitted with a fluid metal lattice that gave the seating an ethereal quality. Bertoia considered his collection of chairs created for Knoll Associa...
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Bertoia Bird Chair Ottoman
Bertoia Bird Chair Ottoman
Average Price
$3,896
Number Available
10
Bertoia Bird Chair Ottoman
By Harry Bertoia
Materials
Metal, Fabric, Steel
Styles
Mid Century Modern
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Harry Bertoia Bench 400y 410y
Harry Bertoia Bench 400y 410y
Average Price
$3,667
Number Available
3
Harry Bertoia Bench 400y 410y
By Harry Bertoia
Materials
Metal, Hardwood, Steel, Wood, Ash, Chrome, Fabric, Iron, Teak
Styles
Mid Century Modern
Simple, straightforward and unassuming in its clever design, the Bertoia bench is a hallmark mid-century modern piece. Harry Bertoia (1915–78) was an Italian-American sculptor, jewelry designer and furniture maker who developed his famous bench for Knoll in 1952. Made of slatted wood set atop a chrome-plated welded steel frame, the bench was Bertoia’s first product for Knoll, who granted him creative freedom when he joined the company’s studio in 1950. While the piece does not represent Berto...
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Harry Bertoia furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Harry Bertoia furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of metal and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Harry Bertoia furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 188 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 2 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Harry Bertoia were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Charles Eames, Michael Taylor, and Warren Platner. Prices for Harry Bertoia furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $325 and can go as high as $450,000, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $2,930.
Questions About Harry Bertoia
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Whether or not a Harry Bertoia chair is comfortable really comes down to a matter of personal preference, but there are a lot of positive reviews pertaining to how comfortable the Italian-born American designer’s seating is. Among furniture aficionados he is known for the wire-lattice Diamond chair (and its variants such as the tall-backed Bird chair) designed for Knoll Inc. and first released in 1952. Shop a selection of Bertoia chairs from some of the world’s top dealers on 1stDibs.

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