Alberto Burri - The Great Wonderful: 100 Years of Italian Art New York Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Exhibited

    New York, Nahmad Contemporary, Strike(s), February 3 - March 3, 2014

  • Literature

    Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini (ed.), Burri: Contributi al catalogo sistematico, Cittá di Castello, 1990, no. 891, pp. 208-209, (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1943, Alberto Burri was captured while serving as a medic in the Italian army. He was taken to an American POW camp in Texas and in these rather unlikely environs began to paint. Populated by fissures, debris, and wreckage, his work suggests the distress of its inception. Using an array of materials, often in violently arresting combination, he created richly textured work which entices as it unsettles.

    In the early 1950s, Burri created a series of sacchi, or sackcloth, works: burlap compositions whose coarse and shredded materiality suggests the horrors of conflict. Over the ensuing years, he began to develop a combustion technique, using torched and burnt materials to create some of his most profoundly disquieting works. It is to this period that the present Combustione belongs. The work carries the marks of process, and is a document of both destruction and creation. There is much in the work that suggests injury and scarring: the cracked surface, the white and black palate, and the fissure from top to bottom. Yet there is a curious elegance here too.

    Burri is often associated with Art Informel: a tradition of European abstract painting, which emphasized an instinctive approach and resistance to formal strictures. Equally, he has earned comparisons to American practitioners of Abstract Expressionism. While his work undeniably relates to these traditions, he remains a distinctive and singular artist, and as with much of Burri’s work, Combustione presents a powerful and unique vision that combines the graceful with the alarming.



paper, plastic, acrylic, PVA glue, combustion on board
22 x 14 in. (56 x 35.6 cm)

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $485,000

Contact Specialist
Brittany Lopez Slater
Head of International Exhibitions
New York
+1 212 940 1299

Carolina Lanfranchi
+39 338 924 1720

The Great Wonderful: 100 Years of Italian Art

New York 13 May 2015 4pm