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Harry Bertoia Art

Harry Bertoia (Italian American, 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 modernism. 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. As an artist, Bertoia 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. There, 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 Cranbrook, 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.

Iconic Designs from Harry Bertoia
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
Diamond Chair
Diamond Chair
Bertoia Side Chair
Bertoia Side Chair
Bertoia Bench - 400Y/410Y
Bertoia Bench - 400Y/410Y
Bertoia Bird Chair and Ottoman
Bertoia Bird Chair and Ottoman
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Light Spray
By Harry Bertoia
Located in New York, NY
Bertoia’s spray sculptures are his most elegant sculpture creations. While they do not make any sound, they are meant to be “played” with and are carefully orchestrated to move in a...
Category

1970s Contemporary Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Steel

Bertoia 'Untitled Abstraction'
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Myrtle Beach, SC
Harry Bertoia, 'Untitled Abstraction', monoprint, c. 1940, a unique impression. Estate stamped 'HARRY BERTOIA MONOPRINT', verso. A fine impression, on cream wove Japan paper, the ful...
Category

1940s American Modern Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Monoprint

Vertial Sculpture
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Lambertville, NJ
Jim’s of Lambertville is proud to offer this artwork by: Harry Bertoia (1915 – 1978) Artist, sound art sculptor, and furniture designer, Harry Bertoia, was born in Italy in 1915 be...
Category

20th Century Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Paper, Monoprint

Untitled (Suspended Willow)
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Palm Desert, CA
A sculpture by Harry Bertoia. "Untitled (Suspended Willow)" is an abstract, steel and steel wire sculpture by Post War artist Harry Bertoia. The willow form is one of Harry Bertoia's...
Category

1960s Post-War Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Steel, Wire

Three Sound Sculpture
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Lambertville, NJ
Jim’s of Lambertville is proud to offer this artwork by: Harry Bertoia (1915 – 1978) Artist, sound art sculptor, and furniture designer, Harry Bertoia, was born in Italy in 1915 be...
Category

20th Century Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Monoprint

Spray
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Miami, FL
TECHNICAL INFORMATION Harry Bertoia Spray 1979 (year completed) Steel wire, bronze 37 h x 13 dia in. Sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Harry Bertoia Foundation and a...
Category

1970s Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Bronze, Steel

"Spray"
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Lambertville, NJ
A sculptor of kinetic objects, many of them with mazes of thin rods that appear brush like, Harry Bertoia was born in San Lorenzo, Italy, and came to America in 1930. In 1936, he stu...
Category

20th Century Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Steel

untitled 1
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Long Island City, NY
Artist: Harry Bertoia Title: Untitled 1 Year: circa 1945 Medium: Monoprint on Rice Paper Paper Size: 9 x 11 inches Frame: 14.5 x 17.5 inches
Category

Mid-20th Century Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Monoprint

Untitled 4, Modern Abstract Monotype by Harry Beroia
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Long Island City, NY
Artist: Harry Bertoia Title: Untitled 4 Year: circa 1945 Medium: Monoprint on Rice Paper Paper Size: 9 x 11 inches Frame: 14.5 x 17.5 inches
Category

1940s Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Monoprint

Untitled 2
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Long Island City, NY
Artist: Harry Bertoia Title: Untitled 2 Year: circa 1945 Medium: Monoprint on Rice Paper Paper Size: 9 x 11 inches Frame: 14.5 x 17.5 inches
Category

Mid-20th Century Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Monoprint

Untitled 3, Modern Abstract Monotype by Harry Bertoia
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Long Island City, NY
Artist: Harry Bertoia Title: Untitled 3 Year: circa 1945 Medium: Monoprint on Rice Paper Paper Size: 9 x 11 inches Frame: 14.5 x 17.5 inches
Category

1940s Abstract Harry Bertoia Art

Materials

Monoprint

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