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Lot 428: HARRY BERTOIA, Straw (maquette for Hawkins Ferry), 1963/1964

Contemporary Art

Platinum House

by Lempertz

May 24, 2013

Cologne, Germany

Live Auction
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Description: Brass coated metal wire and bronze height approx. 127 cm. - Surface soiling, one element slightly distorted. With photo certificate from Harry Bertoia research project, Rock Cave, West Virginia, dated 19.04.2013.The present work is a maquette for a larger sculpture for the W. Hawkins Ferry Residence, Detroit. Harry Bertoia was commissioned by William Kessler and Associates, architects in Detroit, to design a centerpiece for this modern home. "'An intellectual exercise' is perhaps the one phrase best suited to generalize about the whole of Bertoia's work to date. For each of his sculptures originated in the mind - from a well formulated but constantly evolving idea or concept based on his perception, not on observation on nature - and was brought to fulfillment through the exercise of his intelligence in making decisions during the process of creation. This is why his work has such a strong appeal to the intellect. It represents an intellectual process leading toward the universal in art. Much of it is willed, brought about by engineering, carefully calculated. It is the product of a modern man's use of his sensitivity and intelligence on materials which are specifically related to the twentieth century world - industrial materials, mass produced where possible, metals that have been refined and extruded into flat sheets, rods, wires, shot. [...] 'Precision' is a word that has been applied to Bertoia's sculpture and it is aptly descriptive. His work reveals the precision that went into it, not merely in the mental calculations of engineering details, such as stresses and strains and perfect balance, but in the finishing details of craftsmanship. [...] Bertoia's hand craftsmanship, an unusual blend of 'tender, loving care' applied to precisely chosen modern industrial materials, adds the warmth of personal attention to what otherwise might seem cold and inhuman. His sensitivity to aesthetic considerations such as color and texture, proportion and balance, makes itself felt in every piece." (June Compass Nelson, Harry Bertoia, Sculptor, Detroit 1970, p.48)

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