The Sound Sculptures of Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia is a renowned sculptor, printmaker, jewellery maker, furniture designer and sound artist. Perhaps most well known for his chairs (pictured), he became fascinated by the sonic potential of the metals he used and in the late fifties he began working on sound sculptures he called ‘Sonambient’.

Bertoia created sound sculptures in all shapes and sizes using copper and bronze rods. When tapped, the rods would sway and collide, creating resonant frequencies“I can almost play these blindfolded; I know exactly where they all are,” says Harry Bertoia. “Yet something is always different – the temperature or the sunlight or the audience – and it makes it a different experience every time.”

On the suggestion of his brother, he moved his collection of sound sculptures into a renovated Pennsylvania barn. Over a period of ten years, he recorded more than 350 reels of tape and, from these sessions, he sourced the material for his eleven self-released Sonambient LPs, the final creative masterworks of his lifetime. Many musicians and artists have found inspiration in his Sonambient work, including the likes of John Cage and Brian Eno.

Important Records have re-released these 11 LPs over the past year and, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, they will re-launch Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient label this December in order to release the first new work from Bertoia’s vast archive of unheard recordings.