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Bertoia’s sound sculptures, for auction.

This coming Tuesday, at 17:00 EST, the well-known Sotheby’s auction house will bring out a selection of sound sculptures from Harry Bertoia’s legendary Sonambient Barn collection. These are the most iconic pieces, the ones that the artist kept for himself for their exceptional tonal and aesthetic qualities. Together they constitute the “Sonambient”, Bertoia’s term for the sonorous ambience that his sculptures created together.

When Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), the Italian-born, naturalised American designer and artist, decided to leave Knoll, the design firm for which he created his famous Diamond Chair, due to the success of that iconic model, he turned his attention entirely to sculpture, his great passion. From 1960 onwards, he began to create a series of metal sculptures made of vertical rods welded in a row on a flat base, which differed in the number, height and diameter of the rods. From then on, his obsession was to capture the sound that his metal works emitted when the wind blew through them. To this end, he renovated the old barn in the garden of his Pennsylvania home and reserved it for his sound sculptures, bringing together in that space the best sonic and aesthetic qualities. Together they formed the “Sonambient”, and in the seventies he gave several live performances with the sounds of his sculptures and recorded eleven albums which are available on the Imprec label.

© Photograph of several of the sound sculptures offered for auction by Sotheby’s. From left to right, lots 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21, whose starting prices are, respectively, 42,000, 85,000, 60,000, 35,000, 70,000, 42,000 and 70,000 US dollars.