Harry Bertoia  (American, 1915-1978) 

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Harry Bertoia (Italian, 1915–1978) was a sculptor who was best known for his classic Bertoia Chair and numerous monumental architectural sculptures. He was born in Arieto Bertoia in San Lorenzo, Italy, on March 10, 1915. He attended school in Italy until the age of 15, when he accompanied his father to Michigan to see his brother Oreste. Upon entry to North America, his name was changed to the American name Harry.

After finishing high school in Detroit, Bertoia received a scholarship to the Art School of Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, where he studied drawing and painting. In 1937, he attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI. In 1939, he was asked to stay on at that Cranbrook Academy of Art to teach metalwork. Metal was scarce during World War II, so Bertoia was forced to concentrate on jewelry making. When he wasn't teaching, Bertoia spent time creating monoprints, which he later sent to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to be assessed. In 1943, the Guggenheim foundation exhibited 19 of Bertoia's prints.

In 1943, Cranbrook Academy of Art closed its doors, and Bertoia moved to California. While there, he worked with Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978) and Ray Eames (American, 1912–1988) on projects that involved sculpting molded plywood. During this time, he continued to work on his monoprints and held his first exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1945. In 1950, he moved to Pennsylvania to work with Hans Knoll (German, 1914–1955).

It was during this time that Bertoia designed the Bertoia Diamond Chair series, which is still produced by Knoll, Inc. In 1953, General Motors commissioned Bertoia to complete an architectural sculpture, which became his first of many. Some of Bertoia's more notable architectural sculptures include View of Earth From Space, designed for the Dulles International Airport, Waves, designed for the Philadelphia Civic Center, and Sounding, a fountain piece designed to sit in front of the Standard Oil building in Chicago. Bertoia died from lung cancer on November 6, 1978.

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Harry Bertoia, Dandelion

 

Harry Bertoia
Dandelion
circa 1966

Abby M. Taylor Fine Art LLC
Harry Bertoia, Untitled

 

Harry Bertoia
Untitled
Abby M. Taylor Fine Art LLC
Harry Bertoia, Footed Sonambient

 

Harry Bertoia
Footed Sonambient
circa 1960

Abby M. Taylor Fine Art LLC
Harry Bertoia, Three Towers Sonambient

 

Harry Bertoia
Three Towers Sonambient
Abby M. Taylor Fine Art LLC
Harry Bertoia, Sonambient Maquette

 

Harry Bertoia
Sonambient Maquette
1975

Abby M. Taylor Fine Art LLC
Harry Bertoia, Exhibition Invitation

 

Harry Bertoia
Exhibition Invitation
2014

Abby M. Taylor Fine Art LLC
Harry Bertoia, Untitled (#42a)

 

Harry Bertoia
Untitled (#42a)
circa 1940

Carl Solway Gallery
Harry Bertoia, Untitled (#1752)

 

Harry Bertoia
Untitled (#1752)
circa 1940

Carl Solway Gallery
Harry Bertoia, Stainless Steel Willow Sculpture

 

Harry Bertoia
Stainless Steel Willow Sculpture
circa 1970

Coolhouse
Past auction results (2158)  View All
Harry Bertoia, Four Sculptures

 

Harry Bertoia
Four Sculptures, 1960-1969
monoprint

 

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Harry Bertoia, Sonambient sculpture

 

Harry Bertoia
Sonambient sculpture, 1970
beryllium copper and brass

 

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Harry Bertoia, Spray

 

Harry Bertoia
Spray, 1970
stainless steel base, collar, rods, brass beads

 

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1915   Born in San Lorenzo, Pordenone, Italy
1937   He received a scholarship to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art where he encountered Walter Gropius, Edmund N. Bacon and Ray and Charles Eames for the first time, Bloomfield Hills, MI
1938   Attended the Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, now known as the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI
1939   Opened his own metal workshop and taught jewelry design and metal work
1943   Married Brigitta Valentiner and moved to California to work with Charles and Ray Eames for the Evans Product Company
1950   Moved to Pennsylvania to establish a studio and to work with Hans and Florence Knoll
1950 - 1955   The commercial success enjoyed by Bertoia's diamond chair was immediate and in the mid-50's the chairs, produced by Knoll, sold so well that the royalties he received for them allowed him to devote himself exclusively to sculpture
1957   Fellow at the Graham Foundation in Chicago, IL
1978   Died in Barto, PA
2009   Pordenone Art Museum, Pordenone, Friuli, Italy
2008   Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2006   Reading Art Museum, Reading, PA
2001   Kennedy Galleries, New York, NY
Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI
1999   Allentown Art Musuem, Allentown, PA
1984   Fairweather Hardin Gallery, Chicago, IL
1981   Harry Bertoia, Retrospective, Staempfli Gallery, New York, NY
1978   Grieg Hall, Bergen, Norway
Heinie-Onstad Museum, Oslo, Norway
1977   Marshall University, Huntington, WV
1975   Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA
Olympia Galleries, Glenside, PA
1973   Marshall University, Huntingdon, WV
1966   St. Paul Art Center, St. Paul, MN
1961   Staempfli Gallery, New York, NY
St. Paul Art Center, St. Paul, MN
1958   US Pavilion, Brussels World's Fair, Brussels, Belgium
1957   The American Federation of Arts, New York, NY
1956   Fairweather Harden Gallery, Chicago, IL
1954   Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
1952   Knoll Associates, New York, NY
1947   Nierendorf Gallery, New York, NY
1945   San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
1943   Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Nierendorf Gallery, New York, NY
  Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
  Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
  Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
  Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
  Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
  Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX
  Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
  Vero Beach Museum of Art, Vero Beach, FL