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Harry Bertoia (Italian/American, 1915-1978)


Born in 1915, in the village of San Lorenzo, Italy, and moved to Detroit, Michigan at the age of 15. He was accepted into the painting and woodworking program at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1937, and taught metalworking for the Academy during WWII. With the shortage of metal, Bertoia focused on jewelry design and the production of monoprints until 1943. He and his wife moved to California to join the Eames to work on their experimental molded plywood projects. After not receiving credit for his contributions towards the Eames designs, the Bertoia family moved to Pennsylvania with an invitation from the Knoll Associates. Knoll produced Bertoia’s Diamond chair in 1952, which became a staple in the 1950’s furniture movement. During the 60s, Bertoia gravitated towards the construction of his easily recognizable tonal sculptures, sprigs of metal rods that issue sound when struck. Bertoia had acquired lung cancer from working his toxic materials and fumes, he passed away in 1978.

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