Sculpture Journal

Alloyed screens: Harry Bertoia and the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building – 510 Fifth Avenue

Sculpture Journal (2016), 25, (3), 361–380.

Abstract

Harry Bertoia was a prolific and innovative artist of the post-war period. His contributions to sculpture have been largely overlooked as a result of his connections with commercial design and architecture. Bertoia’s sculpture, however, reflected a moment of scientific discovery and technological innovation, when artists, designers, and architects created a visual language in response to these developments, often through the use of new materials, and when corporate collaborations were not met with the same cynicism that they are today. This article focuses on two of Bertoia’s sculptures: a bronze standing screen for Gordon Bunshaft’s 1954 landmark Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building in New York and a suspended altarpiece screen for Saarinen’s chapel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955. Both sculptures partition space while simultaneously functioning as integral, unifying elements within the architectural structure. They furthered the ideology and vision – idealistic or not – of mid-century modernist architecture and the promise of modern life.

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Author details

Sullivan, Marin R.