MILAN - Interest in Alberto Burri seems to be increasing, as more curators and collectors recognise his importance as an artist – the Guggenheim has recently announced a retrospective of his work and the Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary sale in Milan features a crucial work by the artist.
Alberto Burri’s Senza titolo (1952) is one of the many highlights of the sale. As one of a limited set of works that anticipated the “Sacchi” group, Burri’s use of burlap, combined with sacco, oil, paper and pumice stone on canvas, was the first of its kind. Born in the United States, and trained as a doctor, it was only during his time in the army between 1944-45 that he found his passion for art. The lacerations, sewing, cracks and burnt material in his work are reminiscent of the brutality and wounds that he witnessed.
Having been shown at the Venice Biennale, Senza titolo was included within Burri’s first solo show in the United States at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, in 1953. Senza titolo is thus not only one of Burri’s most celebrated works, but is a crucial example of the “Sacchi” series.
Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, 1964.
This work by Burri is joined in this sale by an outstanding group of works from important Italian and international collections. Headlined by Lucio Fontana’s large-scale blue slash and one of Italy’s most internationally recognised artists, Enrico Castellani, further highlights include: Futurist works by Boccioni and Balla, Marini, De Chirico and Sironi; Realismo Esisternziale by Renato Guttso; an important postwar work by Afro; and a special selection of ceramics by Fontana.
In the run-up to the 2015 Guggenheim retrospective, it will be interesting to see the buzz that surrounds Burri’s work grow. With an artistic career that lasted exactly 50 years, Burri reached beyond the conventional canvas, expanding painting’s repertoire further than anyone could envisage.