Bertoia completed over 50 Public Commissions throughout the country and in several other countries as well. Eero Saarinen gave Bertoia his first chance to create sculpture on a monumental scale, hiring him for the General Motors Technical Center panels in 1953. The 36’ long metal screen launched the sculptor on a consistent path of largely successful pieces.
Bertoia won numerous architectural and artistic awards for public sculptures throughout his career, despite the fact that they held little importance to him (he felt that titles or pieces of paper were insignificant). When asked for which sculpture he received the AIA award, he replied, “I don’t recall which one it was… I really don’t pay much attention to these awards, they come and they go. I completely forgot.”
The Philadelphia Civic Center fountain piece, installed in 1967 and removed in 2000 when the building was demolished, has recently been relocated at Woodmere Art Museum in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia. It was a happy day to free the 4-ton sculpture from a suffocating storage shed (which had actually been built around it) and onto the lush grounds of Woodmere where the public can now see and even touch the beast of a sculpture.
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