04/10/2015

Opening in New York's Guggenheim Museum: Alberto Burri - 'The Trauma of Painting'




2015 has been for me an utterly fascinating journey through art discoveries, which started in Bristol, England, and does not seem to end.

Here is an insight into a wonderful artist's work, Alberto Burri, born a century ago, in 1915, in Italy.
His work is luckily soon to be celebrated in vibrant places.


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Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting



This major retrospective exhibition—the first in the United States in more than 35 years and the most comprehensive ever mounted—showcases the pioneering work of Italian artist Alberto Burri (1915–1995). Exploring the beauty and complexity of Burri’s process-based works, the exhibition positions the artist as a central and singular protagonist of post–World War II art. Burri is best known for his series of Sacchi (sacks) made of stitched and patched remnants of torn burlap bags, often combined with fragments of discarded clothing. Far less familiar to American audiences are his other series, which this exhibition represents in depth: 
Catrami (tars), Muffe (molds), Gobbi (hunchbacks), Bianchi(whites), Legni (woods), Ferri (irons), Combustioni plastiche (plastic combustions), Cretti, and Cellotex works.

Burri’s work both demolished and reconfigured the Western pictorial tradition, while reconceptualizing modernist collage. Using unconventional materials, he moved beyond the painted surfaces and mark making of American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Informel. Burri’s unprecedented approaches to manipulating humble substances—and his abject picture-objects—also profoundly influenced Arte PoveraNeo-Dada, and Process art.

Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting is organized by Emily Braun, Guest Curator, and Distinguished Professor, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, with Megan Fontanella, Associate Curator, Collections and Provenance, and Ylinka Barotto, Curatorial Assistant, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. An accompanying study was led by Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The Guggenheim Museum is also grateful for the collaboration of the Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy.

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Watch this video where the exhibition curator Emily Braun provides a brief introduction to Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim October 9, 2015–January 6, 2016:

http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/upcoming/alberto-burri-the-trauma-of-painting

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Alberto Burri was born March 12, 1915, in Città di Castello, a small town in the Umbria region of Italy. In 1940 he received a degree in medicine from the Università degli Studi di Perugia. He served in the Ethiopian campaign and in World War II, first as a frontline soldier and then as a physician. Following his unit’s May 1943 capture in Tunisia, Burri was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Hereford, Texas. Disaffected by war and by his internment, he took up painting in an autodidactic, figurative style and never practiced medicine again.
In February 1946, Burri was repatriated to Italy and set up a studio in Rome. After his first solo exhibition, at the Galleria La Margherita in 1947, he visited Paris and was influenced byJoan Miró’s collages and Jean Dubuffet’s thickly painted works incorporating tar. Burri exhibited with the Rome Art Club, which familiarized him with Futurist arte polimaterica(“multimaterial” art). Experimenting with unorthodox pigments and resins, he produced hisCatrami (tars) and Muffe (molds), as well as protruding, sculptural canvases that he calledGobbi (hunchbacks). By 1950 he was making assemblages out of burlap bags and household linens—Sacchi (sacks) and Bianchi (whites)—that garnered him international acclaim. His first solo exhibitions in the United States took place in 1953 at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, and the Stable Gallery, New York; that same year his work appeared in Younger European Painters: A Selection (1953–54) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh organized his midcareer retrospective in 1957.
Burri developed a new material realism that stood apart from postwar gestural abstraction and its emotive and existentialist content. He blurred the boundaries between painting and relief sculpture and redefined the concept and the making of the monochrome. In the mid-1950s he turned to mass-produced industrial materials in prefabricated colors and developed a new technique of painting with combustion to make torched wood veneer works (Legni[woods]); welded reliefs of cold-rolled steel (Ferri [irons]); and compositions of melted and charred plastic (Combustioni plastiche [plastic combustions]).
Burri married the American dancer-choreographer Minsa Craig in 1955, and from 1963 until 1991 they wintered in Los Angeles, where the artist began a dialogue with Minimalism. HisCretti, monochromatic (black or white) fields of induced craquelure, date from the 1970s. The monumental Grande cretto (1985–89) that he built over the ruins of Gibellina, a Sicilian town destroyed by a 1968 earthquake, is one of the largest Land art works ever realized. As part of the foundation he established in 1978, Burri designed his own museum in Città di Castello’s Palazzo Albizzini, and it opened in 1981. In 1990 works from his last series, the Cellotex, painted on flayed fiberboard, went on permanent display in a nearby complex of former tobacco-drying sheds known as the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco. The artist died February 15, 1995, in Nice. Burri has been the subject of numerous retrospectives in Europe and the United States, including Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2015–16).


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Legno e bianco 1 (Wood and White 1)



While interned as a prisoner of war in Texas during World War II, Alberto Burri—then a doctor in the Italian army—took up painting and demonstrated an early predilection for cast-off, discarded materials. After his release, Burri fully dedicated himself to art making and embraced the inherent beauty of natural, ephemeral materials and unconventional mediums. From 1950 to 1960, Burri executed a series of textile constructions called sacchi(sacks), using paint and sewn or collaged pieces of burlap and fabric. Early commentators suggested that the patchwork surfaces of the sacchi signified living flesh violated during warfare. Burri subsequently became fascinated with burning materials and began to produce wood pieces, or legni, in 1955. As seen here, Burri scorched thin sheets of wood veneer until they had achieved the desired expressive impact and then glued the sheets to canvas. The surface textures of the fragile wood panels alternate between smooth and singed, matte and shiny.

ARTIST

Alberto Burrib. 1915, Città di Castello, Italy; d. 1995, Nice

TITLE

Legno e bianco 1 (Wood and White 1)

DATE

MEDIUM

Wood veneer, combustion, acrylic, and Vinavil on canvas

DIMENSIONS

87.7 x 159 cm

CREDIT LINE

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

ACCESSION

57.1463

COPYRIGHT

Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello/2015 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome

ARTWORK TYPE

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Bianco B (White B)




ARTIST

Alberto Burrib. 1915, Città di Castello, Italy; d. 1995, Nice

TITLE

Bianco B (White B)

DATE

MEDIUM

Plastic, acrylic, combustion, and Vinavil on Celotex

DIMENSIONS

159 x 159 cm

CREDIT LINE

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012

ACCESSION

2012.29

COPYRIGHT

Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello/2015 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome

ARTWORK TYPE


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Cellotex LA 86




ARTIST

Alberto Burrib. 1915, Città di Castello, Italy; d. 1995, Nice

TITLE

Cellotex LA 86

DATE

MEDIUM

Acrylic on fiberboard

DIMENSIONS

50 x 76 1/8 inches (93 x 127 cm)

CREDIT LINE

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, Minsa Craig, 1986

ACCESSION

86.3445

COPYRIGHT

Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello/2015 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome

ARTWORK TYPE


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Il Grande Cretto - Gibellina Vecchia





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Alberto Burri - Trailer



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More soon.


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