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.