Alberto Burri and traces of a genius of modern art

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Alberto Burri particular “Sack”, 1953


“Minsa” by Beatrice Brandini

On the centenary of the birth will be many initiatives dedicated to Alberto Burri, the king of the Informal. A master shy and introverted, who knew how to mix the cubist collages, the futuristic visions with Piero della Francesca and Signorelli, creating magnificent compositions between the informal and abstraction.

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Alberto Burri “Red Plastic”, 1962


Alberto Burri “Tar”, 1949

Alberto Burri was born in Città di Castello in 1915. During World War II, just graduated in medicine, he was drafted into the army as a medical officer. Taken prisoner by the British in 1943, was handed over to the Americans who sent him to the concentration camp of Hereford in Texas until 1946. Here he began to paint.

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Alberto Burri “Combustion”, 1955

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Alberto Burri “Burning wood”, 1956

America pays tribute to this great artist with an anthology (next October) at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. And it is the second time that it does, the first was in 1953 at the Frumkin Gallery in Chicago, thanks to a monograph by Johnson Sweeney of MoMA, the patron David Thompson and “Art News” who called him “the best Italian painter who had seen in New York after the war. “

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Alberto Burri “5P”, 1953


Alberto Burri “Sack IV”, 1954

In the early ’50s Rauschenberg saw in Rome the work of Burri, the canvases of bitumen, sack and stitching .., he remained so impressed to learn their secrets so much to go back to America and start his “combine paintings”; now the great exhibition of the Guggenheim will return the authorship of that research. Putting maybe once again the emphasis on a country, Italy, which does not always recognize his greatest talents. Although it is true that Burri was an inspiration (maybe more) for other artists later became stars, it is also true that the criticism of those years outcry seeing his works, demonstrating shallowness and provincialism. In America, Germany and France in those years, Burri was already well established, in Italy must wait until 1963 when the criticism dedicated to him the first biography.

The public continued to be very divided, the bottom was reached in 1972 when a major exhibition in Turin a woman called the health department to disinfect his paintings, considered smelly and full of microbes… In 1989 the Minister of Ecology of the municipality of Milan, decided to remove a small theater of scenes revolving, work of 1973 and the gift of the artist to the city. From this sad episode Burri not put more foot in Milan, decided to donate the theater to the city of Athens. Now maybe will be restored, but meanwhile the artist is dead and I would say “what a shame”.

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Alberto Burri “Sextant Ranked N.3”, 1982

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Alberto Burri crack “The Journey”, 1979

Reading these stories, I wonder how can you be so ignorant? The beauty of art is to arouse emotions, to reason, to create a debate, generate subjective points of view; criticism without reasoning, without knowing, knowledge and especially without understanding, is sterile and useless. Burri, like many other giants, had a vision, has created something new and different. Only those who ignore is not able to “read”.

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Alberto Burri “Cellotex”, 1979

Burri was living in Umbria, a little isolated and lonely. A lover of nature, food and good wine, it was actually very much tied to childhood friends who visited him frequently and with whom he shared his passions. Allergic to the protocol of the official meetings and worldliness that follows said: “I do not go to places where you know everyone and they all speak the same things. Painting is for me a freedom attained, constantly consolidated and defense”

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Alberto Burri “Sextant Ranked N.9”, 1982

Burri claimed to have planted roots in the air, recorded the details that struck him in an exercise that seemed continuous and “safe” and which was characterized by time, which makes life unexpected and changeable and therefore always different.

The quest for freedom is pushed to the point of not wanting to sell his works “would paint even if I do not obtain a penny. And they do not sell. Why sell for more money? No, the paintings gift them ….

Like when, returning to Rome after the war, he preferred to spend a difficult period, rejecting the “certainty” of a life as a doctor, devoting himself to his passion, or the art.

The famous Burri’s sacks were actually containers jute where they were packed aid which Italy received from United Nations organizations. Once used to their contents and then emptied, were abandoned. For Burri were his compositional element.

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“Aesthetics” Burri in the S/S 2015 collections 

Generous and pure, donated the prize amount Feltrinelli, the Accademia of Lincei, the restoration of the church of San Creswell, between Cortona and Città di Castello, with frescoes by Luca Signorelli.


“Aesthetics” Burri by Beatrice Brandini

I imagine you with your Saharan front of a good glass of wine, with Vedova  and Fontana, who knows what kind of discussions, such conversations enjoyable and challenging … Maybe seeing the world as it is going to not regret much your demise!


Alberto Burri, photo of Mimmo Jodice

“Those who say that the artist suffers makes me laugh. The artist is happy.” Alberto Burri

Good life to all!


2 commenti su “Alberto Burri and traces of a genius of modern art

  1. This is my first time I have visited your site. I found a lot of interesting stuff in your blog. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one! keep up the impressive work.

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