Art of the 20th Century

 



Art Styles in 20th century Art Map



 





Alberto Burri



 

Alberto Burri

 

b. 1915, Città di Castello, Italy; d. 1995, Nice

Alberto Burri was born March 12, 1915, in Città di Castello, Italy. Burri began not as an artist but as a doctor, earning his medical degree in 1940 from the University of Perugia and serving as a physician during World War II. Following his unit’s capture in northern Africa, he was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp in Hereford, Texas, in 1944, where he started to paint on the burlap that was at hand. After his release in 1946, Burri moved to Rome, where his first solo show was held at the Galleria La Margherita the following year.

Like many Italian artists of his generation who reacted against the politicized realism popular in the late 1940s, Burri soon turned to abstraction, becoming a proponent of Art Informel. Around 1949–50, Burri experimented with various unorthodox materials, fabricating tactile collages with pumice, tar, and burlap. At this time, he also commenced the “mold” series and the “hunchback” series; the latter were humped canvases that broke with the traditional two-dimensional plane. This preoccupation with the ambiguity of the pictorial surface and with non-art materials led Burri to help start Gruppo Origine, founded by Italian artists in 1950 in opposition to the increasingly decorative nature of abstraction. The artists in Gruppo Origine exhibited their work together in 1951 at the Galleria dell’Obelisco, Rome.

In 1953, Burri garnered attention in the United States: his work was included in the group exhibition Younger European Painters at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and was shown as well at the Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, and the Stable Gallery, New York. In the mid-1950s, Burri began burning his mediums, a technique he termed combustione. These charred wood and burlap works were first exhibited in 1957 at the Galleria dell’Obelisco. In 1958, his welded iron sheets were shown at the Galleria Blu, Milan. In this same year, Burri was awarded Third Prize at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh. In 1959, he won the Premio dell’Ariete in Milan and the UNESCO Prize at the Sгo Paulo Bienal. There was a solo show of Burri’s art in 1960 at the Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the Critics’ Prize.

Persevering with the combustione technique, Burri started to burn plastic in the early 1960s. These works were exhibited in 1962 at the Marlborough Galleria, Rome. Burri’s first retrospective in the United States was presented by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 1963. His art was selected for the traveling Premio Marzotto exhibition of 1964–65, for which he won the prize in 1965, the same year in which he was awarded the Grand Prize at the Sгo Paolo Bienal. The art historian Maurizio Calvesi wrote a monograph on Burri in 1971. The subsequent year, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, dedicated a retrospective to Burri. In the early 1970s, Burri embarked upon the “cracked” paintings series, creviced earthlike surfaces that play with notions of trompe l’oeil. A retrospective of Burri’s work was inaugurated at the University of California’s Frederick S. Wight Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1977; it traveled to the Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1978.

Burri turned to another industrial material, Cellotex, in 1979, and continued to use it throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1994, the Italian Order of Merit was bestowed upon Burri. The artist died February 15, 1995, in Nice.

 

 


 


Sacking and Red
1954


 


Composition
1953


 


Combustione
1964



 


Untitled
1915



 


Cretti nero C



 


Sacco e rosso
1959




 


Sacking



 


Sacking



 


Untitled


 


Untitled


 


Cretto


Cretto


 


Gran Ferro M1
1958



 


Gran Ferro M3
1959



 


Sacco IV
1954


 


Untitled


 


Untitled


 


Untitled


 


Untitled


 


Grande Rosso P18

1964


 


Legno SP
1958



 


Untitled


 


Natura morta
1947


 


Sacco e bianco
1953

 


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