Harry Bertoia (1915-78)

Harry Bertoia embodied all that is praiseworthy in an artist. He was an innovator, he was passionate about his work, he was modest, and above all he was generous. His continuous exploration in the creative use of metal, led him to the creation of "Sonambient", the name given to his kinetic sound sculpture, for which he is most closely associated. Bertoia's love of nature is present in most of his work. Through his use of metal, he interpreted natures sounds, motions, and forms. His "Bush" sculptures are considered some of his most beautiful work. Starting with a simple core or trunk made of copper, Bertoia would methodically branch out his "Bush" forms, as one sees in nature, and terminate each branch with a bead of bronze. The resulting work achieved a symmetry experienced only in nature.

Other sculptural forms he experimented with were his "Willows", "Sprays", "Spill Casts", "Sunlit Straw", "Panel Sculptures", "Melt Press", and many others.

His love of the monotype art form, has left us with a large body of work that opens a window to the evolution of his movement from monotype to sculpture.

As a young man, Harry Bertoia's passion for art was spirited along by his Italian parents who, recognizing his unique talent, sent him to Detroit, from his native Italian home of San Lorenzo, in 1930, to settle with his brother Oreste, and follow an artistic path, that eventually led him to Cranbrook. At Cranbrook he forged friendships with Charles and Ray Eames, Florence and Hans Knoll, the Saarinen family, and many other inspiring personalities. These relationships, along with his continuous exploration in numerous art forms, set Harry on an artistic path that would distinguish him as one of the more unique, and innovative talents of the 20th century in American art.