The exhibition positions the artist as a central protagonist of post-World War II art and revises traditional narratives of the cultural exchanges between the USA and Europe in the 1950s and ’60s. It demonstrates how Burri created a new kind of picture-object that directly influenced Neo-Dada, Process art, and Arte Povera.
curator Emily Braun, Megan Fontanella, and Ylinka Barotto
From October 9, 2015, to January 6, 2016, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present a major retrospective—the first in the United States in nearly forty years and the most comprehensive in this country—devoted to the work of Italian artist Alberto Burri (1915–1995). Exploring the beauty and complexity of Burri’s process-based works, the exhibition positions the artist as a central protagonist of post–World War II art and revises traditional narratives of the cultural exchanges between the United States and Europe in the 1950s and ’60s. Burri broke with the gestural, painted surfaces of both American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Informel by manipulating unorthodox pigments and humble, prefabricated materials. A key figure in the transition from collage to assemblage, Burri rarely used paint or brush in conventional ways, and instead worked his surfaces with stitching and combustion, among other signal processes. With his torn and mended burlap sacks, “hunchback” canvases, and melted industrial plastics, the artist often made allusions to skin and wounds, but in a purely abstract idiom. The tactile quality of his work anticipated Post-Minimalist and feminist art of the 1960s, while his red, black, and white “material monochromes” defied notions of purity and reductive form associated with American formalist modernism. Bringing together more than one hundred works, including many that have never before been seen outside of Italy, the exhibition demonstrates how Burri blurred the line between painting and sculptural relief and created a new kind of picture-object that directly influenced Neo-Dada, Process art, and Arte Povera.
Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting is organized by Emily Braun, Guest Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Distinguished Professor, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Curator, Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection, with Megan Fontanella, Associate Curator, Collections and Provenance, and Ylinka Barotto, Curatorial Assistant, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. An accompanying study was led by Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
The Guggenheim Museum acknowledges the collaboration of the Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy.
“This comprehensive exhibition of the work of Alberto Burri affirms his position as a leading pioneer of postwar European art and one of the most groundbreaking artists of his time,” stated Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “Through the scholarship of our curatorial team led by Emily Braun, the Guggenheim is bringing to light new aspects of Burri’s experimental and innovative practice. We welcome the opportunity to reacquaint twenty-first-century museumgoers with Burri’s legacy and to reexamine his impact both on his contemporaries and on a new generation of artists.”Continue Reading..