Sculptor, designer, painter, printmaker, musician, jeweler. Throughout a multifaceted, forty-year career, Harry Bertoia (1915–1978) prolifically produced objects both purposeful and ornamental that brought him international recognition and acclaim. While best known for his metal chairs and sculptures, the former Cranbrook Academy of Art student and instructor first explored the material with small pieces of jewelry. Bent, Cast & Forged is the first publication devoted to these works.
For Bertoia, jewelry making was a process of creative discovery, an exploration of material on a manageable scale, and an avenue of inquiry for his conceptual interests. Inspired by the artistic theories emanating from Europe’s avant-garde, he was particularly fascinated by the vital forces of nature and its cycle of growth and decay. These investigations of form, dimension, and structure were produced largely during the first decade of Bertoia’s career and offer an early glimpse of a creative vision that would crystallize as he matured as an artist. The brooches, bracelets, and necklaces showcased in this catalog are standing evidence of the artist-craftsman’s first forays into biomorphic abstraction and establish him as both a pioneer of the American studio jewelry movement and a master of elevating fashionable adornment to objet d’art.