Auction  June 5, 2018  Chandra Noyes

Harry Bertoia’s Diverse Sculptures Come to Auction at Bonhams this Week

Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Bush Form), circa 1970. Welded copper and bronze with applied patina, diameter 9in (23cm). Estimate: US$ 20,000 - 30,000.

At their Modern Decorative Art & Design auction this week, Bonhams offers a fine assortment of works from Mid-Century Modern Renaissance man Harry Bertoia. Bertoia was an Italian-born artist who spent most of his life in the US. Originally a painter, Bertoia had a diverse career that included jewelry and furniture design, printmaking, public sculpture, even a series of albums.

Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Folio of Twelve Monoprints from the Synchromy Series, circa 1943. Ink on rice paper, within original card box, stamped in gold leaf 'BERTOIA MONO PRINTS', six prints with ink stamp 'HARRY BERTOIA MONOPRINT',  size range 7 1/2in x 5 1/2in (19cm x 14cm) to 8in x 5 1/2in (20cm x 14cm). Estimate: US$ 6,000 - 10,000.

After studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bertoia worked for Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Knoll. The designs Bertoia created for Knoll were so successful, they allowed Bertoia to leave design and devote himself solely to his sculpture. His collection at Knoll is still in production and remains popular.

The range of works offered at Bonhams reflects the breadth of Bertoia’s career. From monoprints to large and small sculpture, there are objects in many styles and price ranges. Outstanding is one of Bertoia’s “Sonambient” works from the 1970s. Bertoia was fascinated by sound, and created metal sculptures that moved in the wind, creating beautiful soundscapes. He went on to record a series of 11 albums of ambient noise created by these works, titled "Sonambient." This collection of works shows how widely Bertoia experimented with metal and with form. His "Bush" sculptures, in particular, captivate with their rich texture and lightness, in spite of their dense media. All of the items at auction have been authenticated by the Harry Bertoia Foundation, who continue to promote his work.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), (Untitled) Sonambient, circa 1970
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), (Untitled) Sonambient, circa 1970. Beryllium copper rods silvered to brass base, one in a circle, one in a semi-circle configuration, seventy-six rods in total, on teak sound box, height including sound box 34in (86.5cm); width including box 10in (25cm); depth including box 6 1/2in (16.5cm). Estimate: US$ 40,000 - 60,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Spill Cast), circa 1965
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Spill Cast), circa 1965. Bronze, with applied patina, height 3 1/2in (9cm); width 6 3/4in (17cm); depth 4 1/2in (11cm). Estimate: US$ 3,000 - 5,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Gymnast), circa 1965.
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Gymnast), circa 1965. Together with another small Spill Cast Form; welded bronze, with applied patina, height 4 1/4in (11cm); width 2in (5cm); depth 2in (5cm); height 2 1/2in (6.5cm); width 1 1/2in (4cm); depth 1/4in (3cm). Estimate: US$ 1,500 - 2,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Bush Form), circa 1970
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Bush Form), circa 1970. Welded copper and bronze, with applied patina, height 24 1/2in (62cm); width 22 1/2in (57cm); depth 21in (53.5cm). Estimate: US$ 80,000 - 120,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Rare Vase Form), circa 1960
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Rare Vase Form), circa 1960. Welded bronze, height 14 1/4in (36cm); width 5in (12.5cm); depth 5in (12.5cm). Estimate: US$ 15,000 - 20,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Multiplane Construction), circa 1966
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Multiplane Construction), circa 1966. Bronze and copper with applied patina, height 4in (10cm); width 3 1/2in (9cm); depth 4in (10cm). Estimate: US$ 6,000 - 8,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Welded Form), circa 1958
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Welded Form), circa 1958. Welded bronze, with applied patina, height 7 3/4in (19.5cm); width 5 3/4in (14.5cm); depth 3in (7.5cm). Estimate: US$ 10,000 - 15,000.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Fantasy Landscape), circa 1958
Courtesy Bonhams

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), Untitled (Fantasy Landscape), circa 1958. Welded bronze, with applied patina, height 4 1/4in (11cm); width 5 3/4in (14.5cm); depth 3in (7.5cm). Estimate: US$ 3,000 - 5,000.

Bonhams' Modern Decorative Art & Design auction takes place June 7th in New York. Get more information online.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra is managing editor for Art & Object.