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Harry Bertoia Sculptures

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.

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Artist: Harry Bertoia
Untitled (Wheat)
By Harry Bertoia
Located in Greenwich, CT
Bertoia's "wheat" pieces are rare and a joy. These works do not make sound when one touches the tines and is meant less to be touched than to convey an organic feel of sunlight rippling through stalks of golden wheat. This is a great size for a table. An unusual composition for Bertoia, Untitled (Wheat) combines elements with the artist’s more familiar Tonals with those of the Sprays. Typical of the artist’s œuvre however is the pleasant sensation of touch when stroking the ends of the wires. Bertoia’s spray sculptures...
Category

1960s Abstract Harry Bertoia Sculptures

Materials

Brass, Steel

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 Sculptures

Materials

Steel, Wire

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 Sculptures

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 Sculptures

Materials

Steel

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Harry Bertoia sculptures for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a wide variety of authentic Harry Bertoia sculptures available for sale on 1stDibs. You can also browse by medium to find art by Harry Bertoia in metal, steel, brass and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the abstract style. Not every interior allows for large Harry Bertoia sculptures, so small editions measuring 11 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Osvaldo Mariscotti, Émile Gilioli, and Richard Pitts. Harry Bertoia sculptures prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $18,750 and tops out at $105,000, while the average work can sell for $44,688.
Questions About Harry Bertoia Sculptures
  • 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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