Wright Auction House Offers Rare Art and Architecture for the Elite Collector

Michael Jefferson demos the sound of a Bertoia sculpture

Michael Jefferson demos the sound of a Bertoia sculpture

The CTA’s #65 Grand bus is standing room only at 5:30 p.m. It’s cramped and slow as molasses, too. So after I trudged from the Noble Street bus stop to the Wright Auction House at 1440 W. Hubbard, I started to plop down on a weathered stool I spotted in the lobby.

Then I had a thought. What if it’s a valuable collectible and I accidentally demolished it?

I subsequently learned this wasn’t just any dinky little stool. It was an incredibly rare Isamu Noguchi stool, valued at close to $50,000. The set of three stools and matching table will probably fetch around $200,000 at auction.

Such is the rarefied world of rare, one-of-a-kind furniture. AIA Chicago arranged the tour of the Wright facility, an auction house that specializes in modern and contemporary design, art and architecture.

Michael Jefferson with Eames-Saarinen chair

Michael Jefferson with Eames-Saarinen chair

“We have important pieces from all over the world,” said Michael Jefferson, Wright senior specialist. “We’re one of the few houses in the world in this niche. We appeal to elite collectors.”

Jefferson showed some of the more esoteric furniture—including a rare molded plywood chair designed by the dynamic duo of Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. Then he showed a few of Wright Auction House’s most impressive current works: sounding sculptures by Harry Bertoia. The large, vertical metal rods move to and fro when brushed up against deliver a robust melody, like a giant wind chime.

The Bertoia sculptures are the perfect example of blending art and architecture, Jefferson said. And one of them can be yours as a lovely accent for a garden or deck. If you’re interested, bidding should begin at around $400,000, so bring your checkbook.

Michael Jefferson demos the sound of a Bertoia sculpture

Michael Jefferson demos the sound of a Bertoia sculpture

Editor’s note: If you’d like to see a very large-scale version of one of Harry Bertoia’s wind sculptures, there is one on the grounds of the Aon Center (200 East Randolph Street), in the elevated section of the plaza at the northwest corner of Upper North Columbus Drive and Upper East Randolph Street.  On a windy day it makes quite a unique sound!
Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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