Tag Archives: Harry Bertoia

The Lost Harry Bertoia Brooch

Today marks the first day of preview for the March 6th Modern Art & Design Auction, and we kicked it off with a special private tour led by our director Peter Loughrey.


During the tour Peter told a great story about Lot 220, the Harry Bertoia brooch which came from  James Byrnes, the first curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at LACMA from 1947- 1953.

While Byrnes was at LACMA, the director of the Art Wing, W. R. Valentiner, became Byrnes’ mentor and broadened his knowledge of art as a whole.  As Peter found out about this relationship between Byrnes and Valentiner, he began to put the pieces together of another relationship — Valentiner’s daughter was married to Harry Bertoia.  Valentiner was known to promote his son-in-law’s work and it would be very unlikely that Byrnes would not have also acquired a piece directly from Bertoia.

While cataloging and organizing the items in the Byrnes estate, Peter knew that there must be a Bertoia in the collection, but finding it was the real question. Bertoia never signed his work. He signed drawings and letters describing his works, but never the actual piece. In terms of jewelry, he use untraditional materials and focused on form rather than preciousness, so looking for something shiny and ornate was out of the question.  Even after going through inventory lists from 1976 and 1984, there was not a single trace.

As Peter was packing up items from a glass case, he saw pebbles and sand on the bottom shelf surrounded by small Pre-Columbian figurines. There, sticking out from the sand, was a tiny piece of metal.

As Peter dusted away the sand, there it was, the Bertoia brooch.

This was a pure discovery by Peter, and with his knowledge of the relationship between Byrnes and Bertoia, he was able to sift out a work by Bertoia that could have been lost.

Lot Information

Lot 220
Harry Bertoia
Brooch
Studio, executed circa 1946
3.875″ x 2.625″
Provenance: From the Estate of Max Palevsky
Estimate $5,000 – 7,000

Interested in Bertoia’s Sounding Pieces? Check out this post for information on two that will be offered in the March 6, 2011 Modern Art & Design auction.

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March 6, 2011 Auction Lots ONLINE NOW

Count down till the March 6, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction: 16 days

From Sottsass and Calder to Matta and Bertoia, the March 6th auction is full of fresh property from important estates.

Go to the LAMA website to view all the lots with complete listings.

To bid, please fill out the LAMA Bid Form and fax or email back to Shannon@lamodern.com, or to speak with a LAMA representative by calling 323-904-1950.

Don’t forget, all bids must be submitted no later than March 5th by 5pm (Pacific).

Harry Bertoia Sounding Pieces

As Bertoia was working on a sculpture that consisted of several standing rods, he accidentally broke a rod, causing it to crash into another rod, resulting in a sound that resonated deeply with the artist. According to Bertoia himself, this sound “initiated a deliberate gesture in search of understanding what a group of wires would do.” Throughout the 1960s, Bertoia created over 100 sound sculptures consisting of rows of flexible copper rods that sway when touched or blown, producing various tones depending on the length and mass of the rods. He referred to this sonorous atmosphere as Sonambient, the resulting environment created by the gentle clangor of the rods. These two pieces are early examples of the artist’s interaction with sound, evidenced by the brass cylinders atop the rods and the padded feet beneath the base.

– Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer

Click on these links to listen to
each of the sounding pieces:

Lot 223: Bertoia Sounding Piece with narrow cylindrical caps

Lot 222: Bertoia Sounding Piece with wide cylindrical caps

Lot 222: Bertoia Sounding Piece with wide cylindrical caps, alternate take

Lot Information:

Lot 222
Harry Bertoia
Sounding piece
Studio, executed circa 1965
Sold with packing crate made by Harry Bertoia
45.25″h x 12″ x 12″
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist
$40,000 – 60,000

Lot 223
Harry Bertoia
Sounding piece
Studio, executed circa 1965
Sold with packing crate made by Harry Bertoia
33.5″h x 8″ x 8″
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist
$30,000 – 50,000

Schiffer, Nancy N., and Val O. Bertoia. The World of Bertoia. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing, 2003. Print.

Call to Consign for LAMA’s 50th Auction!

Yes, it is hard to believe that this October Los Angeles Modern Auctions will conduct its 50th auction since 1992. From Eames, Schindler, and Laszlo, to Bertoia, Giacometti and Picasso,  LAMA has represented Modern to its fullest. The landmark 50th auction will feature important modern works from the 20th century ranging from fine art and furniture to decorative arts and sculpture.

To submit material for this special event, please email Peter Loughrey, peter@lamodern.com, with images and descriptions of items you wish to consign. Deadline for all submissions is August 3, 2010.

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen “Conversation” armchair prototype, Lot 187 in the May 1999 Auction, Estimate $45,000 - 50,000, Realized $129,000

Photography for the May 23, 2010 Auction Catalog

Yesterday we officially started photography for the May 23, 2010 Modern Art & Design Auction Catalog. Once photography is done we will go straight into designing the catalog, which will be available for purchase at the beginning of May.

George Nelson Desk with Return

Durot Chair and Bertoia "Diamond" Chair