Revere Auctions
Live Auction

September: Fine Art, Furnishings, & Collectibles

Wed, Sep 28, 2022 11:00AM EDT
Lot 347

Monumental Harry Bertoia "Sunlit Straw" Sculpture

Estimate: $300,000 - $600,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$300 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $200
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000
$500,000 $25,000
$1,000,000 $50,000
$10,000,000 $100,000
Harry Bertoia (Italian/American, 1915-1978). Monumental 45 foot sculpture titled "Sunlit Straw," 1964-65, comprised of thousands of interlocking brass-coated steel rods in seven segments. Six segments average approximately seven feet in length with one smaller segment measuring approximately three feet in length. The six longer segments each have a lift hook along the top for installation.

Designed and installed specifically for the Northwestern National Life Building, now known as Voya Financial 20 Washington. According to promotional materials developed for the building's opening, "Bertoia gave up all other work for a year to concentrate on the sculpture, which in appearance suggests the gold grain of harvest time."

This referenced directly to John Pillsbury whose office on the top floor contained a second Bertoia sculpture.

Harry Bertoia is known for his large-scale metal sculptures, which demonstrate his impressive blend of artistic vision and technical skill.

Born in 1915 in San Lorenzo, Italy, Bertoia moved to the United States in 1930 to stay with his older brother in Detroit. He enrolled in Cass Technical High School, where he studied jewelry making, and was immediately taken with the technical and artistic aspects of the craft. Following his high school graduation, he enrolled in the Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. After one year of study there, he received a scholarship to the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

At Cranbrook, he helped reopen the school's metal shop, and became friends with many influential designers of the day, including Ray and Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Florence Knoll. These friendships helped Bertoia to break into a successful design career, creating furniture with the Eameses and Knolls for their successful companies. He began studying welding during this period, a skill that soon would become a cornerstone of his artistic practice.

Following professional success as a designer, he turned to sculpture full-time. Putting the metalworking skills gained earlier in his career to good use, he created massive metal constructions, using welded pieces to create dazzling forests of abstract forms. These works soon gained recognition throughout the art world, and he received many commissions for museums and public buildings.

The present work is a stunning example of Bertoia's public art. Visually imposing, the sculpture catches the light and draws the eye, welcoming the viewer into the building. Its subtle depiction of straw is a testament Bertoia's ability as a storyteller, referencing the history and residents of the building and city without losing its modern edge.

Total; height: 14 ft x width: 45 ft x depth: 40 in.


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