Alberto Burri

Alberto Burri

Alberto Burri was born in Città di Castello on 12th March 1915. After having graduated in medical school, he joined the army as a health officer and during the Second World War he was kept prisoner at the prison camp of Hereford in Texas, where he started painting. Back in Italy in 1946, he gave up on the medical career to completely dedicate himself on painting and he moved to Rome, where he exhibited between 1947 and 1948 at some galleries. In 1948 he created the first “tars” (oil, tar, sand, vinavil on canvas) which were followed by the “moulds” and the “hunchbacks” (works in which he put objects between the structure and the canvas that gave the impression that the work was exiting the surface of the painting and made it bulged into the 3rd dimension). In 1951 he established the “Gruppo Origine” with Giuseppe Capogrossi, Ettore Colla and Mario Ballocco. Its goal was to overcome the abstract academic rules. From 1950 he started realizing his most revolutionary works: the famous “Sacks”. The poor material narrated its own story through its seams and its burns assuming the symbol of universal pain. These works provoked a great scandal: in 1995 for example, the purchase of “Grande Sacco” by the National Gallery of Modern Art of Rome caused a parliamentary question. They were exposed also in the personals which were held in Rome and in some other different European and American cities, for example at the Guggenheim museum of New York, where they received excellent critics. His style was associated to the movement of the informal art. This artistic tendency was born and spread in Europe and it was characteristic of the cultural post-war climate. Datable in the ‘50s and the ‘60s, it expressed the loss of faith in rationality. The action was considered the only way of expression. The painting was a constant tension towards an instinctive and uncontrolled expression of itself, beyond the usual figurative categories. So it repelled the shape, the prospective, the surrounds and all the academic canons. The support of the work became changeable material by the artist. After 1957 Burri presented the works “Legni”, “Combustioni” and “Ferri”. In 1962 he exhibited the first “Plastiche” at the Gallery Malbourough in Rome. At the beginning of the ‘70s he moved his attention towards monumental solutions, going from the “Cretti” (a mixture of cooked ceramics, china clay and pitchy mass) to the “Cellotex” (panels of industrial and pressed cartoon). The theatre was one of his biggest passions and he created different sets. From the end of the ‘70s he started to do the “cyclical organisms” with a polyphonic structure. The first was the “viaggio”, showed at Città di Castello in 1979 and passed then to Munich. In 1980 “Orti” at Firenze, “Sestante” at Venice in 1983, where he returned to use the colour, a substantial matter for him and “Annottarsi”, a title which can ironically meant the contrary of getting up to date or referred to the night of existence, the “vecchiaia” in 1985 and in 1987. In 1981 a permanent collection of his art’s works was inaugurated at the Albizzini palace in Città di Castello. Indeed in 1984 it was organized a great retrospective of him with more than 1600 pieces at the Criterio palace in Milan. During the ‘80s Burri exposed his works in New York, Paris, Nice and Rome. In 1989, after the Fondation of the Albizzini palace had bought the tobacco’s seccatoi (dryers) at the Città di Castello, they turned it in a museum all dedicated to the artist. In 1991 there were two other important retrospectives: the first at the Pepoli Campogrande Palace in Bologna and the second at the Rivoli’s Castle. In 1993 it was opened to the public a new cycle of works, entitled “Il Nero e l’Oro” (the Black and Gold) at the tobacco’s seccatoi. In December 1994 the Burri’s donation to the Uffizi’s Gallery was celebrated: it comprised three series of graphic works besides the painting “Bianco e Nero”. Alberto Burri died on 13th February in 1995 in Nice

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Artworks