Exhibitions

Combustione: Alberto Burri and America

Main Gallery Sep 11–Dec 18, 2010

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17 Cellotex L.A. 2, 1979
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Combustione: Alberto Burri and America
Sep 11–Dec 18, 2010

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Alberto Burri, Mold (Muffa), 1951
Alberto Burri, Mold (Muffa), 1951, Oil paint and pumice stone on canvas, 28 ⅜ x 31 ½ in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Studs Terkel in memory of Ida Terkel
Alberto Burri, White (Bianco), 1952
Alberto Burri, White (Bianco), 1952, Oil, bronze and enamel paint, cotton fabric, and gold leaf on canvas, 22 ⅛ x 33 ⅜ in., The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Harry O. Maryan
Alberto Burri, Legno e rosso 3, 1956
Alberto Burri, Legno e rosso 3, 1956, Painted canvas covered with lacquered bark, 62 1/2 x 34 1/2 in., Harvard Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Gift of Mr. G. David Thompson, in memory of his son G. David Thompson, Jr., Class of 1958
Alberto Burri, Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday), 1956
Alberto Burri, Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday), 1956 Collage, paint, and rags on canvas, 59 ½ x 98 ½ in., Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Patrons Art Fund: Gift of G. David Thompson
Alberto Burri, Grande Ferro M-4, 1959
Alberto Burri, Grande Ferro M-4, 1959, Sheet metal mounted on wood, 77 ⅞ x 78 in., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Alberto Burri, Combustione L.A. 1965
Alberto Burri, Combustione L.A. 1965, Plastic, acrylic, Vinavil, and combustion on fiberboard, 19 ½ x 15 ⅝ in., Collection of Isabella del Frate Rayburn
Alberto Burri, Bianco Cretto C1, 1973
Alberto Burri, Bianco Cretto C1, 1973, Acrylic and glue on fiberboard, 59 ½ x 49 ¼ in., Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy
Alberto Burri, Nerro Cretto L.A., 1978
Alberto Burri, Nerro Cretto L.A., 1978, Acrylic and glue on fiberboard, 60 ¾ x 54 ¾ in., Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy
Alberto Burri, Mixoblack No. 1, 1990
Alberto Burri, Cellotex L.A. 86, 1986, Acrylic on fiberboard, 76 ¾ x 50 in., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, Minsa Craig
Alberto Burri, Mixoblack No. 1, 1990
Alberto Burri, Mixoblack No. 1, 1990, Mixografia on hand-made paper, 68 ½ x 99 cm., Courtesy Mixografia Gallery, Los Angeles
Alberto Burri, Mixoblack No. 10, 1990
Alberto Burri, Mixoblack No. 10, 1990, Mixografia on hand-made paper, 68 ½ x 99 cm., Courtesy Mixografia Gallery, Los Angeles
Alberto Burri, Composition (Composizione), 1953
Alberto Burri, Composition (Composizione), 1953, Oil, gold paint, and glue on burlap and canvas, 33 ⅞ x 39 ½ in., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Alberto Burri, Grande Bianco Plastica, 1962
Alberto Burri, Grande Bianco Plastica, 1962, Plastic and combustion on aluminum frame, 74 ⅞ x 78 ¾ in., Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010, Installation view, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Photo: Jessica Chermayeff
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010, Installation view, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Photo: Jessica Chermayeff
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010, Installation view, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Photo: Jessica Chermayeff
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010
Combustione: Alberto Burri and America, 2010, Installation view, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Photo: Jessica Chermayeff

Alberto Burri (1915-1995) was a seminal artistic figure of the 20th Century, a forebear to many artists and artistic movements–from Pop Art to Arte Povera–both in Italy and the United States. Burri’s fame is great in his native Italy, but he remains relatively unknown in the United States, despite the fact that for over 25 years he would winter in his home in the Hollywood Hills, where he produced more than 60 major works of art. Combustione: Alberto Burri and America–a tightly focused exhibition featuring 36 major works from 1951 to 1990–pays particular attention to both his reception and his production in the United States.

Burri’s biography links him closely with the United States. While a doctor in the Italian army during WWII, Burri was taken captive in Tunisia by U.S. troops and detained at Camp Howze, a prisoner-of-war facility in Hereford, Texas. At some point during his captivity, Burri began drawing and painting. This happenstance initiated his five-decade-long career.

After the war, Burri completely rejected his medical training, and with no formal instruction embarked on a career as an artist. Though he began as a painter, he soon abandoned traditional materials in favor of the creative reuse of mundane objects. The appearance of his Sacchi series in the early 1950s, which incorporated burlap material from military and Marshall Plan supply sacks, represented a radical shift in modernist art-making. Burri innovatively used the discarded debris of everyday life and utilitarian materials such as tar, sheet metal, plastic, and wood which he completely transformed through the actions of tearing, stitching, burning, and collaging.

Interestingly, Burri’s first success as an artist was in America, predating widespread notoriety in his homeland by several years. Starting in the early 1950s, concurrent with the development of his first burlap paintings, Burri had contact with several influential American artists, dealers, and curators who supported his work. The art historian James Johnson Sweeney, then director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, visited Burri in 1953 and became an enthusiastic promoter of his work. Several New York and Chicago art dealers came to view his work at this time and subsequently gave Burri gallery shows in the United States. Despite these auspicious beginnings, Burri remains relatively unknown in the United States.

Burri purchased a home at 7423 Woodrow Wilson Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills in 1963–a location selected for the dry weather climate and its proximity to his wife’s family. He spent each winter there until 1989, and the remainder of the year between Rome and his hometown of Città di Castello. He often titled pieces simply according to their material or series, and titled many artworks produced in Los Angeles with either the prefix or suffix “L.A.”

Combustione highlights projects that occupied Burri in the twenty-five-year period during which he worked in L.A. This landmark exhibition of Burri’s work defines Burri’s importance as an artist for a new generation of Americans.

Major support for the exhibition is generously provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Isabella del Frate Rayburn and Maurice Kanbar, Randi Malkin Steinberger and Harlan Steinberger.

Additional support is provided by Istituto Italiano di Cultura (IIC), Los Angeles, Pasadena Art Alliance, Manfred and Jennifer Simchowitz, Robert Lehman Foundation, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, and Pierpaolo Barzan.
Special thanks to Ovation and KCRW 89.9 FM

Ovation logo  KCRW logo

Thanks also to:

Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri
via Albizzini n. 1
06012 – Città di Castello (Perugia) ITALY
Tel-Fax: +39 075.8554649 Fax: +39 075.8559848
info@fondazioneburri.org; www.fondazioneburri.org

Burri logo
Works by Alberto Burri (c) Artists RIghts Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome and Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy