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Harry Bertoia (American (born in Italy), 1915–1978)


12 x 20 1/2 in. (12 x 21 1/2 x 17 in. overall)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art



Bertoia’s name is often associated with his 1952 design for a domestic chair so celebrated and distinctive that it is known simply as the “Bertoia chair.” Easily recognizable, its curved wire mesh seat is supported by a minimalist metal tube frame. He also created sculptures that evoke organic shapes from such industrial items as corrugated metal and nails welded together. Beginning in 1960 he developed his first sound sculptures that did, indeed, create sounds dependent upon the material, scale and number of metal rods he assembled. The sculptures work when activated by touch or wind; as one metal rod moves it collides with others in the piece, producing chime-like effects that are randomized yet beautiful.


The artist; with Staempfli Gallery, New York; about 1963, purchased by Melvin N. Blake (b. 1927 - d. 1999) and Frank M. Purnell (b. 1930 - d. 1994), New York; gift of the estate of Melvin Blake to MFA, Boston, January 22, 2003

Credit Line

Melvin Blake and Frank Purnell Collection


Sonambient® and Bertoia