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Bertoia's Works on Paper

From March 24th to May 10th, "Harry Bertoia: Works on Paper and Furniture" will be on view at Kean University's Karl and Helen Burger Gallery. Italian-born and Michigan-educated Bertoia (1915-1978) left an indelible stamp in the design canon, creating some of the most treasured modern furniture pieces. Though his wire-rod Diamond Lounge chair, side chairs, and barstools are well-known, he was also a skilled printmaker who explored abstract and richly-colored geometric forms with a nod to the cubic and surreal. Kelly Murphy, an MA student and graduate assistant for the Kean University Galleries, spoke to Dwell about the exhibition, which she helped organize along with Gallery Director Neil Tetowski and fellow MA student Diana Palermo. "Our goal is to make all forms of visual art accessible to everyone," says Murphy. "While we have exhibited the artwork of designers before, this our first exhibition featuring furniture." In the slideshow that follows, Murphy introduces a few of the monotypes presented in the exhibition, providing insight into Bertoia's creative methods.

"The works on paper that are featured in the exhibition are all monotypes, which is an unusual form of printmaking as it produces only one unique print rather than an edition," says Murphy. "Bertoia created these monotypes in an even more unusual way. He would apply ink to a piece of glass, place a sheet of rice paper face down on the inked glass and then sketch on the back of the paper using his fingers or other small tools. The final drawing wouldn't be revealed to him until the paper was then pulled away from the glass."Unititled, c.1970's, ink on rice paper, 15' x 10'. Image courtesy Seraphin Gallery.

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