Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life

Jed Morse and Marin R. Sullivan

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Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life, edited by Jed Morse and Marin R. Sullivan / ISBN 9781588397485 / 224-page hardcover, 9.5 x 11 inches, published by Scheidegger and Spiess

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An extraordinary artist and designer: a fresh view of Harry Bertoia’s entire body of work.

Italian-born American Harry Bertoia (1915–78) was one of the most prolific and innovative artists and designers of the postwar period. Trained at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he met future colleagues and collaborators, such as Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and Eero Saarinen, he went on to make one-of-a-kind jewelry, design iconic chairs, create thousands of unique sculptures including large-scale commissions for significant buildings, and advance the use of sound as sculptural material. His work speaks to the confluence of numerous fields of endeavor but is united throughout by a sculptural approach to making and an experimental embrace of metal.

Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life accompanies the first US museum retrospective of the artist’s career to examine the full scope of his broad, interdisciplinary practice and features important examples of his furniture, jewelry, monotypes, and diverse sculptural output. Lavishly illustrated, the book offers new scholarly essays as well as a catalog of the artist’s numerous large-scale commissions. It questions how and why we distinguish between a chair, a necklace, a screen, and a freestanding sculpture—and what Bertoia’s sculptural things, when taken together, say about the fluidity of visual language across culture, both at midcentury and now.

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