Harry Bertoia, ‘Untitled (Monumental Sonambient)’, circa 1976, Sotheby's
Harry Bertoia, ‘Untitled (Monumental Sonambient)’, circa 1976, Sotheby's
Harry Bertoia, ‘Untitled (Monumental Sonambient)’, circa 1976, Sotheby's
Harry Bertoia, ‘Untitled (Monumental Sonambient)’, circa 1976, Sotheby's

For the Colorado National Bank, Denver, five staggered rows of three and two rods (13 rods total).

From the Catalogue:

"The monumental sound sculptures, and the one commissioned by the Colorado National Bank [lot 28] in particular, o! er such grandeur, presence and sheer impact. Its tone is richly resonant, thunderously deep, and utterly profound. While my father was perhaps best known for his sonambient sculptures, there were only a handful placed in public view in his lifetime, making it rather rare and certainly special." —CELIA BERTOIA

Bertoia spent the last nearly twenty years of his life and career focusing on what would become his most iconic and critically acclaimed body of work: his sound sculptures. Enchanted, even transcended by the beautiful tones produced when metal collides with metal, Bertoia sought to synthesize form and sound, creating sculptures that are as much (if not more so) experiential as they are visual and audible. His sonambients, as he called them, were the culmination of his life's work, and are perhaps the most comprehensive and refined realization of the diverse inspirations that shaped his entire oeuvre's material, form, sound and, most of all, nature.

During the 1970s, Bertoia executed several important public sonambient commissions, such as for the Standard Oil Plaza in Chicago, Illinois (1974), Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio (1976), and the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, VA (1978). The present lot was commissioned for the Colorado National Bank in Denver in 1976 by renowned architect, Minoru Yamasaki, who was best known for designing the World Trade Center in New York. It was exhibited inside the bank, and was complemented by a related largescale sonambient produced by Bertoia for the building's exterior (see image left). This lot is distinguished not just by its storied provenance, but by its monumental scale and corresponding impressive measure of sound. It embodies the artist's full and thorough investigation of the form, and is among the largest sonambients he ever produced."

—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Nancy N. Schiffer and Val O. Bertoia, The World of Bertoia, Atglen, 2003, pp. 186, 188 (for an illustration of another sonambient in the Colorado National Bank commission)
Celia Bertoia, The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia, Atglen, 2015, p. 141 (for an illustration of a related monumental sonambient public commission at Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, OH)

Colorado National Bank, Denver, commissioned directly from the artist by architect Minoru Yamasaki
Private Collection, acquired directly from the above, circa 2006
Wright, Chicago, May 22, 2007, lot 824
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia’s oeuvre encompasses sound sculptures, furniture, and jewelry design. A successful designer at the mid-century furniture company Knoll, Bertoia famously designed their “Diamond chair”, a delicate and airy steel-framed chair introduced in 1952 and still sold today. He would later devote his artistic energy towards innovative sculpture, finding ways to bend and stretch metal so that when crossed with wind or touch, it would create different sounds. Many of Bertoia's “tonal sculptures” were commissioned for established institutions and as public art displays. He has also performed concerts with these pieces, even recording a series of albums known as “Sonambient” music. From a young age Bertoia was friends with other prominent designers such as Walter Gropius and Ray and Charles Eames, and he regularly designed jewelry for his friends.

Italian-American, 1915-1978, San Lorenzo, Italy

Solo Shows

New York,
Bertoia: The Sonambients

Group Shows

Abstract Expressionism Meets Modern Design
AbExArt 3D

Fair History on Artsy

Moderne Gallery at Design Miami/ 2017
Moderne Gallery at The Salon Art + Design 2017
View Artist's CV