Huntington Is Given a Sculpture That Sings
|Harry Bertoia, Sounding Sculpture, about 1970. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
|Harry Bertoia, Diamond Chair, early 1950s. Photo by Sandstein—own work, CC BY-SA 3.0|
Twenty feet high, Sounding Sculpture consists of 16 beryllium-copper poles. When the wind is right they emit droning, buzzing, and pinging sounds. It's less a wind chime than a cross between John Cage and an ASMR trigger.
Bertoia regarded his sound works as musical instruments. He installed about a hundred of them in his Pennsylvania barn-turned-studio and gave concerts by running his hands over certain sculptures. He produced 11 LP albums of his musical performances that are now collectors' items. Vintage liner notes by D'Ortange Mastai promise "lingering musical chords of a weirdly haunting quality, like other-worldly harps.… The Bertoia 'sounding sculptures' are timeless rather than merely modern.… This is sculpture that throbs and chants."
A boxed CD re-release of Bertoia's recordings is available from Important Records.