Meet the Staff: Alberto Burri, 2015: from the Guggenheim Museum to Gibellina to the Santa Maria della Scala
I recently visited the “Burri e Brandi – un’ amicizia informale” show at the Santa Maria della Scala Museum. The Santa Maria is an amazing complex of ancient buildings which served as hospital - one of the earliest in Europe - from the year 1000 until a few decades ago.
Lorenzo Vecchietta, Domenico di Bartolo, Priamo della Quercia; Sala del Pellegrinaio, Santa Maria della Scala, Siena,1441-1444
Walls and ceilings are covered with wonderful medieval and renaissance frescoes depicting the life of the Siena hospital: a truly unique space where to enjoy contemporary art shows as well. “Burri e Brandi – un’ amicizia informale” analyzes the relationship between Italian painter and sculptor Alberto Burri - one of the most influential and innovative artists of the international scene of the second half of the twentieth century - and renowned Sienese art critic and historianCesare Brandi. Brandi was the first art critic to recognize the artist’ s originality and significance. Burri’ s works are dispayed together with works of other leading Italian modern art artists such as Giorgio Morandi, Afro Basaldella, Renato Guttuso, Piero Sadun among others. All works in the show are part of the Cesare Brandi Collection.
The complete collection is open to the public and hosted in the Villa Brandi di Vignano, in the beautiful countryside surrounding Siena.
Alberto Burri, born 1915, Città di Castello, Italy – died 1995, Nice, France Cretto bianco acrylic and vinavil on celotex, 1977,Cesare Brandi Collection
This show is one of the many about Burri’ s work held in 2015, the year which marked the 100th anniversary of the artist’ s birth. A major retrospective of his work, “Alberto Burri: the trauma of painting” was organized at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Alberto Burri worked with unconventional and everyday materials. Nevertheless his practice had nothing in common with ready-made as he transformed, manipulated and searched into the expressive qualities of the materials. He created emotional and evocative works through a deep immersion in the materiality of the medium. Burri is an outstanding figure in the history of painting in spite of the fact that he hardly used paint. He experimented constantly and used a wide array of materials from burlap to wood and corrugated cardboard; from tar to celotex, plastic and acrylic.
His research started in the early ‘ 50s with the usage of torn pieces of burlap from discarded flour sacks stiched together. The 60s were characterized by the use of industrial plastics.
Alberto Burri in his studio - photo by Aurelio Amendola
The “Cretti” series was developed in the 70s, followed by the famous “cellotex”.
Combustione L.A. plastic, acrylic, vinavil, combustione on cellotex, 1965
Celotex acrylic and vinavil on celotex, 1980–89
Grande Cretto, one of the largest Land Art works ever realized, Gibellina, Italy1985-2015
The “Grande Cretto” was designed by Alberto Burri as a memorial of the town of Gibellina which was destroyed by a violent earthquake in 1968. The project was finally completed in 2015. It was timed to coincide with the artist’s 100th anniversary.