Local Roots
The Bertoia Studio is a solid yet unassuming stone building located right along Main Street in Bally, Pennsylvania, just an hour northwest of Freeman’s offices. Beginning in the 1950s, it became the longtime workspace of Harry Bertoia, the visionary sculptor and creative mind behind some of the most iconic and sought-after sculptures in today’s market. A few miles from the studio is the Sonambient Barn, a space that houses dozens of the artist’s copper and bronze tonal sounding sculptures. Bertoia was fascinated by the ever-changing, reverberating sounds made by the gentlest movements of the sculptures, and, along with his older brother, went on to create an album of recordings in the early 1970s.

Though he was born in Italy, and later became a student at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Bertoia is considered by Pennsylvanians to be a native-son.

HARRY BERTOIA  (american, 1915-1978)  UNTITLED (SONAMBIENT) Exceeding Expectations
We were excited to offer eight works by Bertoia at our Modern & Contemporary Sale this past December. Each of the lots was offered by private clients from Pennsylvania, further proof that Bertoia, despite his international fame, has truly become a “local” artist to collectors in the area, a “hometown hero” of sorts.

Up for sale were three Sonambient sculptures, two stainless steel wire bundles on square bases, titled Willow Tree and Spray, and three bronze bush forms. The largest of these three, Sea Anemone, was an asymmetrical, dense cluster of branches, with a captivating energy. 

The two smaller bush forms were the first in the series of our Bertoia lots the day of the sale. The first sold for $30,000, and the second for $23,750, both against an estimate of $8,000-12,000. Sea Anemone was next on the auction block. Bidding took off quickly, and when it sold for $137,500 against an estimate of $50,000-$80,000, we were, of course, thrilled, but not at all surprised. The demand for works by Bertoia is high, and Sea Anemone was a classic and successful example of the influence nature and organic shapes had on the artist.

All told, the eight Bertoia lots alone brought in over $375,000 that morning.

A Keystone Connection
In addition to the distinction of being America’s oldest auction house, Freeman’s is poised to become the go-to house for buying and consigning works by Bertoia. Our history is as firmly rooted in the cultural landscape of Pennsylvania as the artist’s, given our unique proximity to the studio where Bertoia lived and worked. The success of our last sale is far from coincidence, but rather a testament to the dedication and specialized attention we offer our clients, many of whom are, like us, admirers of the artist and his enduring vision.

Ready to sell? Speak to the expert. We are currently accepting consignments for our May 16th auction.  For more information and for a complimentary auction estimate, please contact:
Dunham Townend | 267.414.1221 | dtownend@freemansauction.com

Harry Bertoia (American, 1915-1978) Sea Anemone (Bush), bronze with patina (detail), sold for $137,500; Untitled (Sonambient), sold for $37,500