Harry Bertoia – Untitled (Wall Sculpture)

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© 2003 Estate of Harry Bertoia/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, New York. Photograph by R. H. Hensleigh and Tim Thayer.

Harry Bertoia

Untitled (Wall Sculpture), 1958, for the Winkelman Residence, Detroit, Michigan

Born 1915, San Lorenzo, Udine, Italy; Cranbrook Academy of Art (CAA), Student, Silver and Metalsmithing, 1937; CAA Manager and Instructor in the Metalcraft Shop, 1937–1943; CAA Instructor of Graphic Art, 1942–1943; died 1978, Barto, Pennsylvania
41 ¾ x 63 x 9 ¼ inches
Gift of Peggy and Stanley Winkelman
CAM 1984.34

With its glistening metal surfaces, shapes and shadows, this wall sculpture was commissioned in 1957 by Peggy and Stanley Winkelman, and completed in 1958, hanging near the fireplace in their Detroit home. In a letter to them, Bertoia described the work as “light and airy” and noted that he kept it on his wall “for some time and liked it very much.”

Bertoia taught metalwork and graphic art at Cranbrook Academy of Art before moving to California to work with Ray and Charles Eames. In 1950, he moved to Pennsylvania, working for Knoll Associates and on his own sculpture works. Manipulating form, space, light, texture, color and movement, Bertoia was the most versatile of artists, and his work as a metalsmith, designer of jewelry and furniture, sculptor, painter, and printmaker is innovative and varied.

Years ago in a Pennsylvania barn, his widow Brigitta Bertoia created a symphony of sound by striking over two hundred sculptures of varying sizes in a magical moment. The movement and melodies of the sound sculptures are implied in this wall sculpture, as if waiting to be activated by the flickering light of a fireplace.

Roy Slade
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Category(s): Metalworks; Sculpture

Decade(s): 1950s

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