Alberto Burri: Form & Matter

Sacking and Red 1954

Alberto Burri (1915-95) was an avid footballer who played for the Umbrian first division, a qualified doctor who worked for the Italian army during the Second World War and for the final 18 months was interned in Texas. His first picture, made with canvas and paints supplied by the YMCA, was a view of the desert he could see from the prison camp.

The great postwar pioneer Alberto Burri blazes a trail of sackcloth and ashes in this long overdue UK retrospective, writes Laura Cumming

Alberto Burri: Form and Matter is at the Estorick Collection, London N1 until 7 April 2012

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2 Responses to “Alberto Burri: Form & Matter”

  1. Joseph Masheck Says:

    Burri looks more and more interesting to me, in what I suppose is my old age, because early on, as a young New York homeboy art-c chauvinist I could reject Europeans, one by one, if necessary: You name it, I’ll disqualify it. Ironically, knowing that he actually started painting in Texas might have helped because that would have put him in the magnetic field of Rauschenberg, from Port Arthur, a ‘naturalised’ New Yorker. Anyway, what interests me now in AB is how close he comes to ‘crashing’ or even trashing painting into sad-sack ‘Arte Povera’ but the result, as rough and even close to trash as it comes to being — or rather being ‘out of’ — is not debased, not cynical. If anything, it carries the glory of painting into inglorious times. I was going to respond to Robin Gosnall’s previous post about photography, but hesitated, tripping over what one is now ‘supposed to’ say, about mediation, blah, blah; blah, before expressing any aesthetic response to a work of that art, should anybody get that far; but here and now, with Burri in painting, I can simply thank him for provoking these thoughts.

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