Untitled (20 Rods), c. 1970
Beryllium copper with monel weights
13 x 8 x 2 1/2 inches
In 1959 Harry Bertoia told his son about an idea he had. When making a sculpture from several standing rods, he had tried to bend one, and it broke and struck another, making a sound. “The sound echoed in my mind for a very long time. Then it initiated a deliberate gesture in search of understanding what a group of wires would do,” Bertoia said. Bertoia worked extensively with sounding sculptures, which he called Sonambients, during the 1960s and 1970s.
The present work is a beautiful example of one of Bertoia’s tabletop sounding sculptures, which emits a pleasant pitch when played. The darker patina and longer dimension of the weights, or cattails, along with the elegant proportion of its overall form, make this a particularly striking piece.