Wright is the market leader for works by Harry Bertoia
Over $25 million in sales
Nearly 1000 works offered
85% sell-through rate
2 dedicated auctions
Monumental Prices for Monumental Works
With over thirty-five important commissions, Bertoia is one of the great artist-collaborators in the history of modern architecture. His own investigations into light, space and proportion led to his intimate understanding of architecture aand allowed him to fully draw on and accentuate a space leading to the creation of large scale works that add elements of sensuality, luminosity and tactility to their environments.
Wright experts were the first to recognize the importance of Harry Bertoia’s oeuvre and, since our first auction in 2000, Wright has led the industry in the handling of sculptural works by Bertoia. Not only have we dedicated two stand-alone sales as well as scholarship to Bertoia’s art, we continue to present Bertoia’s works in every major auction. To date we have offered nearly 1,000 Bertoia sculptures for sale, more than any other auction house or gallery in the world, and we dominate the sales results holding a vast majority of auction records for the artist.
Bertoia Bush Forms
Bertoia's Bush Forms are among his most coveted sculptural forms. Radiating from a central point, the Bush Forms are meticulously created using a branching composition that terminates in hundreds of points. Giving the illusion of a continuous surface plane, these forms illustrate Bertoia's exploration of the relationship between space and structure.
Sonambients (Sounding Sculptures) by Bertoia
The Sounding Sculptures, or Sonambients, standout among Bertoia's impressive artistic output. Made in a variety of configurations from thick clusters to a single row of rods, and ranging in size from tabletop to monumental, these incredible sculptures move in the wind and can be touched or played. Interactive and engaging, the Sonambients are among the most desired of his works.
Jewelry & Hollowware
For Bertoia, the relative ease of making jewelry was akin to sketching, a place to try new ideas and explore. It is in Bertoia’s jewelry where his art first takes full form and moves into the third-dimension leading to his breakthrough work as a sculptor.
Multi-Plane Constructions, Gongs and more
Select Commissioned Public Works
Bertoia at Wright
Wright experts were the first to recognize the importance of Harry Bertoia’s oeuvre and, since our first auction in 2000, Wright has led the industry in the handling of sculptural works by Bertoia. To date we have offered nearly 1,000 Bertoia sculptures for sale, more than any other auction house or gallery in the world and we dominate the sales results holding a vast majority of auction records for the artist.
Not only have we included Bertoia works in every major auction, we have dedicated two stand-alone sales as well as scholarship to Bertoia’s art. The first dedicated sale, titled Bertoia: Material and Form, was held in May of 2007. Comprised of sixty-one lots, this sale set record-breaking prices and the accompanying dedicated catalog is now an enduring resource for collectors and institutions worldwide. Bertoia: Material and Form sale set record-breaking prices and catapulted Bertoia records to new heights with a Multi-Plane Construction achieving $420,000, a Dandelion selling for $300,000 and a Sonambient at $408,000.
In June of 2013, Wright staged a second sale dedicated solely to Bertoia: Harry Bertoia: The Standard Oil Commission. This auction featured seventeen Sonambient sculptures including large-scale forms, table-top works and creative models that collectively brought in more than $1,000,000 in sales.
That same year Wright opened our gallery in New York. To kick off 2014 in the new space, we presented Harry Bertoia: 15 Years at Wright. This notable exhibition showcased select works from our history of selling Bertoia at auction alongside works never before offered on the market. The exhibition was well received and the sell through rate was impressive.
The Wright catalogs associated with the Bertoia sales are not only award-winning publications but also valuable resources for collectors and institutions worldwide. With supplementary material such as essays and period photographs alongside beautiful imagery of his sculptural work, these publications illustrate Bertoia's place in the canon of 20th century art and design.
Harry Bertoia 1915–1978
Harry Bertoia was a true Renaissance man well-versed in the language of art and design. Born in San Lorenzo, Italy in 1915, Bertoia relocated to the United States at the age of fifteen and enrolled at Cass Technical High School in Detroit to study hand-made jewelry. In 1937, Bertoia was awarded a scholarship to attend the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where he studied under the direction of Maija Grotell and Walter Gropius. Bertoia was drawn to the mostly empty metal shop and, after two years in the program, was invited to head the department.
At Cranbrook, Bertoia was introduced to a number of designers whose names would become synonymous with mid-century modern design. Here he met Eero Saarinen, with whom he would collaborate on numerous architectural projects, and Charles and Ray Eames with whom, for a short period during the war, he would work for at the Molded Plywood Division of Evans Products in California. In 1950, Bertoia moved east to Pennsylvania to open his own studio and to work with Florence Knoll designing chairs. Bertoia designed five chairs out of wire that would become icons of the period, all of them popular and all still in production today.
The success of his chair designs for Knoll afforded Bertoia the means to pursue his artistic career and by the mid-1950s he was dedicated exclusively to his art. Using traditional materials in non-traditional ways, Bertoia created organic sculptural works uniting sound, form and motion. From sculptures sold to private buyers to large-scale installations in the public realm, Bertoia developed an artistic language that is at once recognizable but also uniquely his own.
Today Bertoia’s works can be found in various private and numerous public collections, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, Denver Art Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., Museum of Modern Art, New York, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
One prevailing characteristic of sculpture is the interplay of void and matter. The void being of it is no exaggeration to say, the reality of sculpture is to be found in the void. Matter simply being an introductory device to the essential.