Four Decades of Drawings

Posted: September 16, 2011

Lawrence Gallery is pleased to open the season with an exhibit of drawings and sculpture by acclaimed artist Harry Bertoia, coordinated in conjunction with Seraphin Gallery. “Four Decades of Drawings” will be on display from August 24 to September 20, 2011. An opening reception will be held September 8 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., with an informal gallery talk at 4:30 p.m.

Bertoia once said of his work, “I want to show what is positive and joyful in the world.”

This objective was fulfilled in a long, prolific career as an artist. Spanning 40 years, his work included sculpture, drawings, furniture, jewelry, and sound recordings. Permanent collections of Bertoia’s work are on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others.

While most of these collections showcase sculpture, the Lawrence Gallery exhibit will focus on drawings. This will give visitors a unique opportunity to see a more intimate part of Bertoia’s creative process. Often studies for his sculpture, the drawings were smaller scale, more personal pieces.

“Speed of execution for his drawings was of paramount importance to Bertoia,” notes art critic and writer Anne Fabbri. “He wanted nothing to interfere with the expression of his thoughts at the moment of their realization.”

Born in Italy, Bertoia came to the United States in 1930 at age 15. He attended Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, became an American citizen in 1946, and later established a studio in Pennsylvania. There, he designed the Bertoia Diamond Chair which was introduced by Knoll in 1952 and became part of the “modern” furniture movement.

He produced more than 50 public sculptures, including a popular display of seven dandelions around a fountain for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Bertoia is perhaps most known for his “tonal” or sounding sculptures, which vary in size and use many different metal rods to create sound. He produced 11 recorded albums of the sounds of sculpture in his lifetime.

Before his death in 1978, Bertoia reflected on his forty years as an artist saying, “My intent has always been the enrichment of life. I have a gut feeling that awareness of the miracle of life is the purpose of life.”

The show’s drawings are part of a traveling exhibition from Seraphin Gallery, located at 1108 Pine Street in Philadelphia. For more information about Seraphin Gallery, please visit or call 215.923.7000. Sculptures have been provided courtesy of Mira and Kevin Nakashima and The Nakashima Foundation for Peace of New Hope, PA.

Lawrence Gallery is located in Lawrence Hall on Rosemont College’s campus at 1400 Montgomery Avenue in Rosemont, PA. The gallery’s hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Last Updated: September 16, 2011