The partnership of American sculptor Harry Bertoia and Norwegian gallerist Kaare Berntsen was borne out of business but ultimately developed into a close and meaningful friendship. Introduced in the late 1960s by their mutual friend, Clifford West, Bertoia and Berntsen collaborated on multiple exhibitions through the 1970s. In particular, Bertoia’s 1972 and 1978 solo exhibitions in Oslo led him to produce some of his most seminal bush and sounding sculptures, including the present monumental bush. Exhibited during Harry’s first solo show at the gallery in 1972 and again in 1977, this extraordinary sculpture is characterized by its dense and even beaded texture, which contrasts with its striking asymmetrical silhouette. Presented and documented in Berntsen’s garden, the naturalistic form of this bush sculpture, along with other large biomorphic beaded sculptures integrated with the landscape while simultaneously sparking visual contrast with its patinated steel and copper composition.
Noted for his dexterity with tools and machinery, Bertoia was a master welder. This larger than life work demonstrates his creative approach to form and unparalleled technical skill. In the 1950s, Bertoia transitioned from furniture designs to unique abstract constructions in steel, bronze and copper, producing a variety of forms ranging from organic, fluid pieces alluding to nature, to dynamic, geometric works channeling the cosmos. The beaded bush-forms are among Harry’s most ambitious, requiring months of painstaking labor to craft the perfect undulating sea of patinated knobs. The towering, 75-inch high cloud of steel rises up from the ground via a central stem, which appears imposing yet weightless. Its impressive stature conveys a dignified, almost figurative quality, imparting the sculpture with incredible dynamism and liveliness. Part of a series that remains Bertoia’s most direct reference to nature, this monumental work is a testament to the artist’s mature vision and mastery of his craft.
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