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Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia : 1915 -1978

Italian born Bertoia attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in  Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and taught painting and metalworking there  from 1937 to 1943. He worked in California with designer Charles  Eames before joining Knoll Associates in New York City in 1950. His  achievements there included the Diamond chair (more commonly known as  the Bertoia chair), made of polished steel wire, sometimes vinyl  coated, and covered with cotton or with elastic Naugahyde upholstery.

Bertoia claimed that his sculpture evolved when the jewelry he was  designing “kept getting larger and larger.” Some of his later  works, the “sound sculptures,” were designed to be activated by  the wind or by hand to produce pleasing metallic or airy sound  patterns. His numerous major works for public areas include huge  decorative flow-welded metal “Sculpture Screens” for major  corporations and educational institutions, a large copper and bronze  fountain, “Waves,” for the Philadelphia Civic Center and the  bronze sculpture “View of Earth from Space” at Dules International  Airport near Washington, D.C. Sonambient® was Bertoia’s term to  describe the spatial and tonal environment created by these sound  sculptures.

Bertoia created the ‘Sound Sculptures’ out of different shapes,  lengths and thickness in order to achieve a range of gentle and sharp  sounds. He experimented as a way to seek harmonic balance with the  metal, resulting in pure, unique tones. When touched, struck or  brushed, these sculptures became abstractions of sound as they sway  and knock against one another. The sounds are organic and mysterious,  as tones resonate and flow into each other. The completed Sonambient®  also consists of gongs and suspended sonic-bars. Bertoia made more  than 360 magnetic-tape recordings.

Bertoia Sound Sculptures kindly on loan from James Moores Collection.

Bertoia Sound Sculpture recordings kindly on loan from Jonathan Moore Collection.