Harry Bertoia: Free Interpretations

Harry Bertoia: Free Interpretations


The exhibition Harry Bertoia: Free Interpretations celebrates the relocation of the artist’s 1967 sculpture Free Interpretation of Plant Forms to Woodmere’s grounds. For over a decade, the lyrically unfolding work, commissioned by the City of Philadelphia and originally installed at the Civic Center in West Philadelphia, has been in storage. Now, having undergone conservation treatment and in coordination with Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, Free Interpretation of Plant Forms becomes a most welcome addition to Woodmere’s grounds and regains its rightful place among the city’s public art.

Best known for his furniture designs and sound sculptures of the 1960s and 1970s, Bertoia nonetheless worked in various mediums throughout his career, including jewelry design and printmaking. In conjunction with the outdoor installation, this exhibition features a number of monoprints made by the artist in the studio behind his home in Bally, Pennsylvania. Bertoia’s prints functioned as studies for his sculptures as well as independent explorations of the organic forms and shapes he invented. The selection on view in this exhibition relates to six large-scale public commissions Bertoia completed between 1967 and 1975. They illuminate the artist’s intentions for these works, his exploration of scale, and his ideas about the interplay of sculptural elements, as well as his commitment to a language of abstraction inspired by the natural world.

Harry Bertoia's Free Interpretation of Plant Forms is owned by the City of Philadelphia and is on loan to the Woodmere Art Museum courtesy of the city.

Woodmere extends sincere thanks and appreciation to Saly J. Bellet for their generous support of the exhibition and catalogue. 


In the News

Old sculpture, new wonders: 'Plant Forms' comes to Woodmere

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Chestnut Hill Local

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The New York Times

Harry Bertoia: Free Interpretations