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Harry Bertoia

 (1915 - 1978)
Harry Bertoia was active/lived in Michigan, California, Pennsylvania / Italy.  Harry Bertoia is known for sculpture-kinetic, abstract monoprint, painting, design.

Harry Bertoia

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Harry Bertoia
A sculptor of kinetic objects, many of them with mazes of thin rods that appear brush like, Harry Bertoia was born in San Lorenzo, Italy, and came to America in 1930. In 1936, he studied at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts and then attended Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Michigan, where he later taught and established the metalworking department. During this time, he began experimenting with jewelry forms and explored ideas that would later emerge into his sculpture.

In 1943, he moved to Venice, California and worked with designer Charles Eames in war efforts until 1946. That first year, he attended a welding class at Santa Monica City College. In 1947, he moved to La Jolla to work in the Point Loma Navel Electronics Laboratory in the publications department creating training manuals for equipment operators. During this time, he continued making jewelry and monoprints and began his first experiments with metal sculpture.

In 1949, he moved to Barto, Pennsylvania where he joined Hans Knoll in Knoll Associates. He became a prolific architectural sculptor. His first commission was a screen for the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. His first sculpture exhibition was in 1951 at the Knoll Showroom in New York.

It was his custom not to sign his works because he believed that the piece itself was a signature, that what he created belonged to the universe, and that a signature called attention to the artist rather than the work of art.

Jeffrey Head, Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg catalogue of 11/19/2002
Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Art"

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Harry Bertoia
Harry Bertoia was born in San Lorenzo, Pordenone Italy on March 10, 1915.  Bertoia immigrated to Detroit in 1930.  He studied at Cranbrook Academy and Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts.  During the 1940s he lived in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles.  By the 1950s he had settled in Barto, PA where he remained until his death on November 6, 1978.

Edan Hughes, author of the book "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who’s Who in American Art, 1947-66; Social Security Death Index.

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Auctionata, Inc.
Harry Bertoia was a sculptor and furniture and jewelry designer who was a successful designer at the mid-century furniture company Knoll. Bertoia famously designed their “Diamond” chair, a delicate and airy steel-framed chair introduced in 1952 and still sold today.

He would later devote his artistic energy towards innovative sculpture, finding ways to bend and stretch metal so that when crossed with wind or touch, it would create different sounds. He has also performed concerts with these pieces, even recording a series of albums known as “Sonambient” music.

From a young age Bertoia was friends with other prominent designers such as Walter Gropius and Ray and Charles Eames, and he regularly designed jewelry for his friends.

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© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Harry Bertoia

About  Harry Bertoia

Born:  1915 - San Lorenzo, Italy
Died:   1978 - Barto, Pennsylvania
Known for:  sculpture-kinetic, abstract monoprint, painting, design