Acquired directly from the above by the previous owner in early 2000
Thence by descent to the present owner
In privileging everyday materials in the 1950s and early 60s, Burri forged an extremely influential path that would ultimately lead to the birth of the prominent Arte Povera movement at the close of the decade. These artists would come to adopt the banal as means of breaking down the once rigid barrier between art and life – the driving force behind Burri’s earlier Plastiche. Riveted by the creative possibilities of fire, Burri first explored its alchemical potential with the Italian writer Guiseppe Cenza in 1955 for the November issue of the magazine Civiltà delle Macchine. Here Burri experimented with scorching and burning paper and fabric to optimum aesthetic resolution, the results of which were published alongside an accompanying article by Cenza. Burri’s career long fascination with the creative potential of destruction finds its place in a grand art historical lineage. Echoing the work of Lucio Fontana, whose violent punctures and incisions into the surface of pristine monochrome canvases provided the perfect expression for the artist’s Spatialist theories, the reductive and destructive tendencies at the very heart of Burri’s Plastiche summon a similar mode of transformation and presage Yves Klein’s iconic Feu paintings. As art historian Carlo Pirovano perfectly explains: "The action of fire became much more domineering and determinant in the unforeseeable series of the plastic combustions which in the 1960s congenially marked Burri's full maturity" (Carlo Pirovano, 'The Seasons of Fire', in: Exhibition Catalogue, Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizione, Burri: 1915-1995 Retrospektive, 1997, pp. 114-15).
Rosso Plastica is an outstanding example of this ground-breaking artistic discovery. In the present work, the nuanced play of diaphanous molten shapes and charcoaled voids demands the viewer to absorb the violence of the scene, evoking an overwhelming sense of pathos that resonates from the dissipated layers of crimson plastic. Swooping across the glistening surface as though a tumultuous jet black river, the lyrical dispersal of intense red against penetrating black is immediately redolent of the theatrical aesthetic and dramatic light of Caravaggio. A Renaissance master whose painterly forms were expressed through an exaggerated use of shadow and light, Caravaggio often employed the heady, lustrous quality of red curtains or fabric as a formal framing device. Gracefully draped, gathered and stretched as though an opulent crimson curtain, the sensuous surface of Rosso Plastica, evinces the earlier master’s monumental drapery and all its rich symbolism. Bubbling like a cascade of red hot magma, Rosso Plastica is a potent example of an artist at the absolute height of his creative powers.
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