Artist biography

Alberto Burri born 1915 [- 1995]

Italian abstract painter, born in Città di Castello. Studied medicine with the intention of working in Africa. During the war, served in Africa as a military doctor. Taken prisoner in 1943, was sent to a camp in Hereford, Texas, where he began to paint. On return to Italy in 1945, decided to become a painter and moved to Rome. First one-man exhibition there, at the Galleria La Margherita, 1947. Adopted an abstract style in 1948 and in 1949 spent some months in Paris. Began in 1949-50 to incorporate sacking in his pictures, followed in the later 1950s by wood, iron and plastic. The patched and scarred appearance of his pictures, and their textural contrasts, were sometimes heightened from 1955 by burning some areas (combustione). Participated in the group Origine with Capogrossi, Ballocco and Colla 1950-2. Awarded the Grand Prix jointly with Vasarely at the 1965 Sao Paulo Bienal. His works of the 1970s include paintings with a network of cracks, and pictures incorporating cellotex. Lives in Rome.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.86