Artist of the day #4

“Every time you see some tree-top moving, you will think of me” Harry Bertoia

Yesterday I played some Harry Bertoia music during the show. For any serious sound sculptures and sound art enthusiast, Bertoia is a special case, as his music is probably amongst the most naive of the field, yet it retains a unique quality that puts Bertoia’s name on the map of music history as well. I say as well because Harry Bertoia is indeed way more celebrated in another field than the musical one. He’s one of the greatest furniture designer of the 20th century.

What amazes me is the obvious connection he managed to establish between both his main interests.
I recently managed to complete my Bertoia collection, let it reflect on me for some time, and I now believe I have digested it enough to be able to appreciate it enough to share it.
Harry self published eleven records in the last year of his life – 1978. Eleven records that became holy grails in many collectors life.
Harry was interested in music. His brother Oresta was a trained musician, but Harry never learned. The family would say what Harry made was instruments that would enable him to “make” music. He had a Pennsylvania Dutch Stone barn which is filled with sound sculptures which he would play as concerts.
Just as his graphic artwork focused on “non-objective” or abstract art, his sculptures produced as well “non-objective” or abstract musical compositions. You could say the music took form from present consciousness : In a way, it was like a stream-of-consciousness style of writing, where structure evolved out of conscious presence. To be present during one of his concerts remains one of the most remarkable experiences of many peoples life I’ve met over the years. The silence at the end of a concert was palpable … nothing remained to be said.
His “gongs” which you will hear on the recordings are direct sound to tape to vinyl. As far as I know, there is no digital enhancement to these sounds.

Bertrand Delanowave


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