March 12, 1915 – February 13, 1995
Born in Città di Castello, Italy
Italian artist known for his adventurous use of materials such as nails, burlap or tar in his work, and his breaking, burning and assemblage techniques that reflect on his was experience and his interpretation of Art Informel aesthetics. Burri was trained as a physician and began to paint only in 1944, while in a prisoner-of-war camp in Texas. In 1946 he moved to Rome and began to paint seriously. Like many of his peers, he turned away from the politicized realism popular at the time, and towards abstraction, becoming a proponent of Art Informel. He subsequently experimented with various unorthodox materials, producing textured collages with pumice, tar, and burlap in order to break with the traditional two-dimensional surface. Beginning in the mid-1950s, he burned his mediums in a technique he called “combustion”. In the early 1970s, he began his “cracked” paintings series (known as Cretto), creating works with creviced surfaces resembling chipped soil that explore the illusionistic properties of painting. In the late 1970s, he turned to another industrial material, Cellotex. His work has been the subject of several successful retrospectives at major institutions including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.