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Harry Bertoia

March 25, 2013

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Harry Bertoia’s sculptures and monoprints at The Armory.

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A Harry Bertoia necklace ( on the left) made in war time when metal was hard to come by.

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Harry Bertoia’s iconic metal chair. Circa 1952.

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The Joe Fresh store at 510 Fifth Avenue New York

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Harry Bertoia’s magnificent sculpture on the back wall upstairs in Joe Fresh.

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Harry Bertoia

It all started when we visited a stand at The Antique Dealer’s Spring Fair at The Armory in New York, where I was fascinated by some monoprints on the wall. I was about to walk away when the exhibitor engaged me in conversation and told me all about this amazing man called Harry Bertoia. I have to admit that I had never heard of him, but I had seen his famous chairs. These monoprints were early works of Harry’s that ( when he was a student) he had sent to the Guggenheim for appraisal. The rest is history as they say. The Guggenheim purchased every one and the Bertoia name thus gained recognition. Harry was also a sound art sculptor, and designed jewellery and furniture. On this stand at the Fair we saw some of his sound sculptures which are long metal tubes fixed to a base, but easily moved to make a sound. Janet Drucker ( who wrote the book on Georg Jensen silver) showed us a necklace that Harry designed – for sale for $24.000.

Then a few days later as I was walking down Fifth Avenue, I was attracted to a store called Joe Fresh ( which opened at the end of March) – mainly because of its size and the fabulous windows with my favourite colour orange. I went inside and up the stairs, and to my surprise, there on the wall behind the check out counter was a huge sculpture, done by Harry Bertoia! This copper, bronze and nickel screen was commissioned for this site in 1953, and contains more than 800 separate forms placed in five different vertical planes. It is 16 feet high, 70 feet wide and 2 feet deep and weighs more than 5 tons. This wonderful building was built in 1952 and is considered an icon of modernistic architecture. Apparently there was a public outrage when the sculpture was going to be removed, so it has stayed. It is well worth a visit to the store just to view the wall.You can read more about Harry here, written by his son.

http://bertoiaharry.com/harry.html

http://www.harrybertoia.org/biography.html

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