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Nov 17, 2021
Brazed bronze and copper wire.
Executed c. 1960.
height: 26 in. (66cm)
width: 22 in. (55.9cm)
depth: 8 in. (20.3cm)
Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Collection of Bob and Gabriele Lee, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (acquired directly from the above in 1985).
Property from the Estate of Gabriele Lee.
This lot is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Harry Bertoia Foundation, signed by Celia Bertoia, Director, and dated August 4, 2021 and will be included in the upcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.
Gabriele Lee bestowed an extraordinary legacy of collecting and philanthropy, whose lasting impact will be felt throughout the cultural fabric of the city of Philadelphia, when she passed away earlier this year at the age of 84. Mrs. Lee studied interior architecture and furniture design in Bielefeld, Germany and later began a career as an interior architect, notably designing showrooms for Knoll furniture in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She later joined Vincent Kling Architects and taught interior design at Drexel University for a time. Her aesthetic eye, in partnership with her late husband Robert S. Lee, Sr.’s passion for collecting, collaborated to form a large and important collection of art and design that filled their Society Hill home. The couple designed their home with Stephen Varenhorst Architects, with Mrs. Lee taking an active role, to showcase their eclectic collection in the best light, both indoors and out.
In addition to collecting contemporary paintings, prints, sculpture, and design, as well as European and Pre-Columbian works, Mrs. Lee dedicated herself to supporting the arts in Philadelphia, as a board member of the opera, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, specifically the Fleisher Art Memorial and Collab, which promotes Modern and Contemporary Design. The Lee’s gracious home, with its outstanding collection, was the setting for lively gatherings and fundraisers that benefited these institutions, creating the perfect setting for a celebration of the arts and the city they so loved.
Two exquisite Harry Bertoia sculptures from the Lee Collection serve as a testament to the couple’s support of important 20th century designers, particularly those like Bertoia with deep Pennsylvania ties. The artist and designer displayed a larger version of the circular sculpture (Lot 37), entitled Fiery Circle, outdoors on his Pennsylvania property for decades. Created of thin bronze and copper wires brazed together, the work is a very rare and unusual form for Bertoia and is a testament to his ongoing experimentations with metal working techniques. The Untitled (Tonal Sound Sculpture) (Lot 38) stands as a quintessential Bertoia sonambient piece, with rich tonal quality as well as striking form. Both works exemplify Ms. Lee’s dedication to collecting fine design, as well as the solidity and power of Bertoia’s mature work.
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