Alberto Burri

  • Born 1915 in Città di Castello, Italy
  • Died 1995 in Nice, France
Trained as a physician, Alberto Burri began to paint while he was a prisoner of war in Hereford, Texas during World War II. Upon his release and return to Rome in 1946 he quit his former career and set up a studio. Burri had his first solo exhibition in 1947 at the Galleria La Margherita in Rome, showing paintings of landscapes and still lifes. He traveled to Paris shortly thereafter, where he was influenced by the work of Joan Miró (1893–1983) and Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985). Burri started to experiment with unusual pigments and resins in the early 1940s, creating sculptural canvases and assemblages blurring the line between painting and relief sculpture, such as his “Gobbi” (hunchbanks). Burri mostly utilized materials which were associated with his experience at the camp in Texas, like burlap, wood, tar and sheet metal. His most famous series are his “Sacchi” (sacks)—cut, torn and stitched burlap pieces in monochrome colors. Burri was the subject of a midcareer retrospective in 1957 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. He was awarded the UNESCO Prize at the 1959 Bienal de São Paulo and the Critic’s Prize for his solo show at the 1960 Venice Biennale.

Artworks by Alberto Burri in the exhibition