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Landmark offering of Harry Bertoia works opens at Sotheby's New York
Harry Bertoia, Untitled (Monumental Spill Casting), 62 ½ inches wide. Circa 1960. Estimate $50/70,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced that the public exhibition for their 16 November auction BERTOIA – Featuring Masterworks from the Kaare Berntsen Collection is now open in their New York galleries, alongside their upcoming auctions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art.

This landmark sale includes some of the most important works by Harry Bertoia ever to appear at auction. The gallerist Kaare Berntsen is credited with introducing Bertoia’s work to Norway through a series of groundbreaking exhibitions that began in Oslo in 1972, until Bertoia’s death in 1978. The close friendship and patronage that developed inspired Bertoia to explore the boundaries of his art, and the works that resulted represent the very pinnacle of his oeuvre. We are delighted to offer 22 works from the Berntsen Collection, including several exceptional undulating bush forms, a number of abstract spill casts and welded forms, and a series of sounding sculptures (Sonambients) of varying sizes and configurations.

Other highlights of this diverse 28-lot auction include: an exceptional monumental Sonambient sculpture, one of three monumental works commissioned by seminal architect Minoru Yamasaki in 1976, for the Colorado National Bank in Denver; an early production Dandelion sculpture, acquired by the present owner from Knoll Associates, circa 1965; and a prototype hanging Willow sculpture from the Seattle First National Bank Commission, 1967. The scope of Bertoia’s jewelry is also well represented with two outstanding pendants, one executed in silver and applied with ebony and coral, circa 1950, the other, a silver gong form with a delicately-hammered surface texture, circa 1970.

From her catalogue essay, Celia Bertoia, daughter of the artist and Director of The Harry Bertoia Foundation, notes: "What began as a business endeavor of gallerist and sculptor developed into a close and deep relationship of two friends discussing the universe and assisting one another to achieve their goals. It was this mutual affection that led Harry to produce some of the most stunning bushes and sounding sculptures of his career for the series of Scandinavian shows. Kaare gave Harry the outlet he needed to complete the particular sculptures that were truly the pinnacle and culmination of his entire oeuvre. There had never before been such undulating and unusual bush forms, or such resonant and beautiful Sonambients pieces. Even the spill-casts displayed a kind of controlled wildness that Harry seldom let loose."

Sotheby’s established the current auction record for a work by Harry Bertoia when Screen from One Marine Midland Center, Buffalo, New York sold for $790,000 in November 2015.


• Harry Bertoia, Untitled (Monumental Sonambient), 180 inches high. Made for the Colorado National Bank, Denver, Circa 1976. Estimate $300/400,000.
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—material, form, sound and, most of all, nature.

• Masterworks from the Kaare Berntsen Collection
Harry Bertoia, Untitled (Monumental Bush), 44 ¼ inches wide, Circa 1970. Estimate $250/350,000

• Property from the Collection of John D. and Sara T. Davies
Harry Bertoia Untitled (Early Dandelion) 84 inches high Circa 1960 Estimate $100/150,000

• Masterworks from the Kaare Berntsen Collection
Harry Bertoia Untitled (Monumental Spill Casting) 62 ½ inches wide Circa 1960 Estimate $50/70,000

• Masterworks from the Kaare Berntsen Collection
Harry Bertoia Untitled (Welded Form) – two works Both circa 1965 Estimates $30/50,000 each

• Harry Bertoia Untitled (Pendant) Circa 1950 Estimate $35/45,000

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