Harry Bertoia sculpture records

RIT Archives

Table of Contents

Collection Overview
Biographical Information for Harry Bertoia
Biographical Information for Harry Bertoia
Scope and Content
Subject Headings
Information for Researchers
Administrative Information
Related Materials

Collection Overview (Collapse)

Harry Bertoia sculpture records
Inclusive Date(s)
Documents related to a sculpture by Harry Bertoia, donated to the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1975. The collection consists mostly of correspondence, but also includes a ceremony schedule and the transcript for Frederic Welsh's presentation speech.
1.0 Folder(s)
C.S. South, Shelf 800, Box 133
RIT Archive Collections
RIT Libraries
Wallace Center
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York, 14623
(585) 475-2557

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Biographical Information for Harry Bertoia (Collapse)

Born in Italy in 1915, Bertoia came to America to study at the age of 15. He was educated at the famous Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. He was best known for his sculpture, but also designed furniture and jewelry. Bertoia’s hand-crafted surfaces combine an interest in modern, mass-produced industrial materials and a sensitivity to color. One of his most popular works are the dandelion sculptures, originally designed for Kodak’s Pavilion at the New York World's Fair in 1964, and are now part of this collection.

Harry Bertoia died in 1978.

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Biographical Information for Harry Bertoia (Collapse)

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) was an American artist and designer during the twentieth century. Born in San Lorenzo, Italy to Giuseppe and Maria (née Mussio) Bertoia, he immigrated to the United States in 1930. Bertoia studied at the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts before attending the renowned Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Michigan from 1937-1942. In 1938, he began teaching at Cranbrook and held this position until 1943. Some of his colleagues at Cranbrook included Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. Bertoia married Brigitta Valentiner, a Rembrandt expert, on May 10, 1943. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1947.

Although he also painted, Bertoia is best known for his metal work. In 1950, he was offered a position at Knoll International in New York. While working for Knoll, he designed his famous Diamond (or Bertoia) chair. Bertoia was also commissioned to create sculptures for various buildings. Some of the locations of his creations are listed below.

In 1964, the Eastman Kodak Company commissioned Bertoia to design a sculpture for its World's Fair pavilion. Bertoia created a series of seven sculptures, referred to as the "Golden Dandelions". The artist hoped the pieces would be "quietly delightful to people." The steel sculptures included bronze "stems" that ranged from six to fourteen feet long, feeding into golden spheres that were up to six feet in diameter. Additionally, the pieces were designed to move up to 30 degrees in the wind. On April 18, 1975, the Eastman Kodak Company presented the sculptures to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in a ceremony held in the Bevier Gallery. Bertoia attended the ceremony and gave a presentation to students on the previous day. After being on exhibit in the Bevier Gallery, the sculptures were moved to the NTID courtyard for permanent display. Currently, these pieces are installed in RIT's Bausch and Lomb building.

Throughout his lifetime, Bertoia showed his work at various exhibits including the London Triennial in 1963 and sculpture shows in Paris (1964), Amsterdam (1967), and Zurich (1968). He received the craftsmanship medal from the American Institute of Architects and was awarded the Gold Medal by the same organization in 1956. Bertoia died on November 6, 1978.

Locations of Selected Works
1953 General Motors Technical Center (Warren, MI)
1954 Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company (New York, NY)
1955 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chapel (Cambridge, MA)
1961 Eastman Kodak Company (Rochester, NY)
1963 Federal Aviation Administration Building at Dulles International Airport (Chantilly, VA)
1964 Northwestern National Life Insurance Company (Minneapolis, MN)
1966 River Oaks Shopping Center (Calumet City, IL)
1967 Philadelphia Civic Center (Philadelphia, PA)
1968 Seattle First National Bank (Seattle, WA)
1972 Marshall University (Huntington, WV)
1976 United States Embassy (Oslo, Norway)

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Scope and Content (Collapse)

The Harry Bertoia sculpture records consist mostly of correspondence related to donation of Harry Bertoia's "Golden Dandelions" sculpture series. Issues discussed in the correspondence include ceremony preparations, the sculpture's permanent location, and letters of gratitude. The correspondence also includes invitations to the dedication ceremony.

Additionally, the collection contains a transcript of Frederic Welsh's presentation speech (Vice President and Director of Corporate Relations at the Eastman Kodak Company) and a schedule of events for the dedication ceremony. There are also several miscellaneous items including an article on the donation.

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Arrangement (Collapse)

Materials in the collection are contained in a single folder and are arranged chronologically. The framed label for the artwork is stored separately.

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Subject Headings (Collapse)

Personal Name(s)

  • Bertoia, Harry

Corporate Name(s)

  • Eastman Kodak Company.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology.


  • New York World’s Fair (1964-1965)
  • Public sculpture -- New York (State) -- Rochester
  • Sculptors


  • Correspondence
  • Speeches

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Information for Researchers (Collapse)

Preferred Citation

Harry Bertoia sculpture records, RIT Archive Collections

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open to researchers.

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Administrative Information (Collapse)

Collection ID


Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in December 2010.

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Related Materials (Collapse)

RIT Art Collection

Harry Bertoia sculpture

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