Alberto Burri

(Città di Castello, 1915 – Nice, 1995)


Alberto Burri was born in 1915, in Città di Castello, Italy. Burri began not as an artist but as a doctor.

Recognized as the artist exponent of Italian informal art, he had a dazzling career in the art scene of contemporary post-war art. After having seen the horrors of the Second World War, as a medical officer, having graduated in medicine, he returned to Italy, in those years, the passion for painting takes over and decided to leave definitively the medicine in favor of art. In Rome between 1947/48 he began to frequent the circles of contemporary art, in particular he was intellectually linked to Capogrossi, Colla and Ballocco, with whom he founded the group "Origine" in 1950.

His early works—rags splashed in red paint to simulate blood-soaked bandages—grew directly out of his experiences as a doctor in the Italian army. He then began to produce works grouped into series according to the material used.

The humble and sometimes crude materials used in these works contrast effectively with their elegant designs, and the easily destroyed materials form a perforated network over an impinging background field.

In 1953 Burri garnered attention in the United States when 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. That same year, Burri was awarded Third Prize at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh. 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 São Paolo Bienal.

Burri turned to another industrial material, Cellotex, in 1979, and continued to use it throughout the 1980s and 1990s

The artist died on February 15, 1995, in Nice, France.

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