Harry Bertoia began his career working for Charles and Ray Eames. During his lifetime he was most recognized for chairs he designed for Knoll. They were extremely successful. During the 1950’s he shifted his energies toward making sculpture, and which lead to experiments with interactive sonic sculptures during the 1960’s. He referred to these creations as sonambient. During his lifetime Bertoia produced eleven self issued LPs of music composed on his creations. For those not wholly dedicated to vinyl, Important Record has just issued a CD Box Set of the complete recordings.
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Bertoia was a sculptor long before working for Eames. In fact, he was a student with Charles + Ray before they ever worked together. It’s easy to overestimate the chair in Bertoia’s career because it’s so famous but the reality is that it was just a blip – something he did when he moved to PA and then never did again.
Although, he did contribute significantly to the MOMA chair and the Eames chair but when he never got any credit from Eames he decided to end the relationship. He may have been the first to jump ship at Eames for this.
All true. Thanks so much for your insights. I should probably have been a little more clear. By career I meant his professional career, vs his creative practice. From my understanding the move to PA was instigated by a job offer by Knoll, where he worked through the middle 50’s and produced a number of chair designs, and that it was essentially the success and subsequent buy-out of those designs that allowed Bertoia the financial freedom to dedicate himself fully to sculpture. Ironically for most of the years I’ve known and appreciated Bertoia’s Sonambien records, I had no idea that it was the same Bertoia who designed the chairs (I’m also a lover of Modernist furniture). In my bubble those records where far more famous than the chairs.