This month, Sotheby’s exhibited “Bertoia—Featuring Masterworks from the Kaare Berntsen Collection” in its New York galleries and hosted an auction on Wednesday. Among the 22 offerings: the “Sonambient” sculpture, which is one of three commissioned works by architect Minoru Yamasaki for the Colorado National Bank in Denver; an early-production “Dandelion” sculpture, circa 1965; a prototype hanging “Willow” sculpture from the Seattle First National Bank Commission, dated 1967; two jewelry pendants, including one in silver with ebony and coral, circa 1950, and another, a silver gong form, circa 1970. The sale total was over $3.5 million.
From left: “Untitled (Monumental Bush)”; “Untitled (Monumental Sonambient)”
Gallerist Kaare Berntsen is known for introducing Harry Bertoia’s work into Norway via a series of exhibitions that kicked off in Oslo in 1972 and ran until the artist’s death in 1978.
Celia Bertoia, daughter of the artist and director of The Harry Bertoia Foundation, writes in the exhibit’s catalogue essay: “What began as a business endeavor of gallerist and sculptor developed into a close and deep relationship of two friends discussing the universe and assisting one another to achieve their goals. It was this mutual affection that led Harry to produce some of the most stunning bushes and sounding sculptures of his career for the series of Scandinavian shows. Kaare gave Harry the outlet he needed to complete the particular sculptures that were truly the pinnacle and culmination of his entire oeuvre. There had never before been such undulating and unusual bush forms, or such resonant and beautiful ‘Sonambient’ pieces. Even the spill-casts displayed a kind of controlled wildness that Harry seldom let loose.”