A sculptor of kinetic objects, many of them with mazes of thin rods that appear brush like, Harry Bertoia was born in San Lorenzo, Italy, and came to America in 1930. In 1936, he studied at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts and then attended Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Michigan, where he later taught and established the metalworking department. During this time, he began experimenting with jewelry forms and explored ideas that would later emerge into his sculpture.
In 1943, he moved to Venice, California and worked with designer Charles Eames in war efforts until 1946. That first year, he attended a welding class at Santa Monica City College. In 1947, he moved to La Jolla to work in the Point Loma Navel Electronics Laboratory in the publications department creating training manuals for equipment operators. During this time, he continued making jewelry and monoprints and began his first experiments with metal sculpture.
In 1949, he moved to Barto, Pennsylvania where he joined Hans Knoll in Knoll Associates. He became a prolific architectural sculptor. His first commission was a screen for the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. His first sculpture exhibition was in 1951 at the Knoll Showroom in New York.
It was his custom not to sign his works because he believed that the piece itself was a signature, that what he created belonged to the universe, and that a signature called attention to the artist rather than the work of art.
Jeffrey Head, Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg catalogue of 11/19/2002
Matthew Baigell, “Dictionary of American Art”