Guggenheim Presents Major Alberto Burri Retrospective, Opening on October 9 2015 – October 9, 2015_January 6, 2016 @Guggenheim #Newyork

(NEW YORK, NY–June 10, 2015)—From October 9, 2015, to January 6,
2016, the Solomon R.

ALBERTO BURRI: THE TRAUMA OF PAINTING

Grande bianco plastica (Large White Plastic), 1964
Plastic (PVC) and combustion on aluminum framework, 191.8 x 292.1 cm
Glenstone
© Fondazione
Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello/2015 Artists
Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome/SIAE, Rome
Photo: Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART

Guggenheim Museum will present a major
retrospective—the first in the United States in more than thirty-five
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 barely used paint or brush, 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, Burri 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, Distinguished Professor, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,
City University of New York, and Guest Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum, with support from Megan Fontanella, Associate Curator,
Collections and Provenance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the
collaboration of Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and
Foundation, stated: “Through the scholarship of our curatorial team led
by Emily Braun, we are bringing to light new aspects of Alberto Burri’s
experimental and innovative practice. By revisiting the Guggenheim’s
postwar exhibitions and publications on Burri, we are further deepening
our history with this important artist. We are pleased to honor the
centennial of Burri’s birth with this major retrospective.”

Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting is made possible by Lavazza.

Support is also provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The Leadership Committee for the exhibition, chaired by Pilar Crespi
Robert and Stephen Robert, Trustee, is gratefully acknowledged for its
generosity, with special thanks to Leonard and Judy Lauder and Maurice
Kanbar as well as to Luxembourg & Dayan, Richard Roth Foundation,
Alice and Thomas Tisch, Isabella Del Frate Rayburn, Sigifredo di
Canossa, Dominique Lévy, Daniela Memmo d’Amelio, Mitchell-Innes &
Nash, Pellegrini Legacy Trust, ROBILANT+VOENA, Alberto and Stefania
Sabbadini, Sperone Westwater, Samir Traboulsi, Alberto and Gioietta
Vitale, Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimo, and those who wish to remain
anonymous.

Additional funding is provided by Mapei Group, E. L. Wiegand
Foundation, Mondriaan Fund, the Italian Cultural Institute of New York,
La FondazioneNY, and the New York State Council on the Arts. The
Guggenheim Museum is also grateful for the collaboration of the
Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri.

Francesca Lavazza said: “Alberto Burri’s birth date of 1915
represents a major moment in Italian history, marking the nation’s
entrance into World War I, but also the establishment of Lavazza’s
longstanding headquarters in Turin. This year, Lavazza is proud to
celebrate its own 120th birthday with support for this sweeping
exhibition of one of the pioneers of modernism, and by joining the
Guggenheim in showing Burri and his enduring influence upon the art
world on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Burri is best known for his series of Sacchi (sacks) made of
stitched and patched remnants of torn burlap bags, in some cases
combined with fragments of discarded clothing. Far less familiar to
American audiences are the artist’s other series, which this exhibition
represents in depth: Catrami (tars), Muffe (molds), Gobbi (hunchbacks, or canvases with protrusions), Bianchi (white monochromes), Legni
(wood combustions), Ferri (irons, or protruding wall reliefs made from
prefabricated cold-rolled steel), Combustioni plastiche (plastic
combustions, or melted plastic sheeting), Cretti (induced craquelure, or cracking), and Cellotex
works (flayed and peeled fiberboard). The exhibition unfolds on the
ramps of the Guggenheim both chronologically and organized by series,
following the artist’s movement from one set of materials, processes,
and colors to the next. Throughout his career, Burri also engaged with
the history of painting, reflecting his deep familiarity with the
Renaissance art of his native Umbria. The exhibition also reveals the
dialogue with American Minimalism that informed Burri’s later Cretti and Cellotex works and features a new film on his enormous Grande cretto (Large Cretto, 1985–89), a Land art memorial to the victims of a 1968 earthquake in Gibellina, Sicily.

Born in Città di Castello, Italy, in 1915, Burri trained to be a
doctor and served as a medic in the Italian army in North Africa during
World War II. Following his unit’s capture in Tunisia in 1943, he was
interned at a prisoner-of-war camp in Hereford, Texas, where he began
painting. After his return to Italy in 1946, Burri devoted himself to
art—a decision prompted by his firsthand experiences of war,
deprivation, and Italy’s calamitous defeat. His first solo show, at
Rome’s Galleria La Margherita in 1947, featured landscapes and still
lifes. After a trip to Paris in 1948–49, he began to experiment with
tarry substances, ground pumice, industrial enamel paints, and metal
armatures and formed accretions and gashes that destroy the integrity of
the picture plane. He then traumatized the very structure of painting
by puncturing, exposing, and reconstituting the support. Instead of
using the traditional cohesive piece of stretched canvas, Burri
assembled his works from piecemeal rags, broken wood veneer, welded
steel sheets, or layers of melted plastic—stitching, riveting,
soldering, stapling, gluing, and burning his materials along the way.
His work demolished and reconfigured the Western pictorial tradition,
while transforming the scale and affective power of modernist collage.

Though considered an Italian artist, Burri married an American
dancer, Minsa Craig, and, beginning in 1963, resided annually in Los
Angeles during the winter months. In 1978 the artist established the
Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri in Città di Castello. The
Fondazione Burri today operates two museums in his hometown that present
artwork he personally installed, the Palazzo Albizzini and the Ex
Seccatoi del Tabacco. The Fondazione is lending two pictures pulled
directly from its permanent collection exhibition: Grande bianco (Large White, 1952) and Grande bianco (Large White,
1956). The former is one of three large textile collages that Robert
Rauschenberg saw in Burri’s Rome studio in early 1953. Those three grand
works will be reunited in the exhibition.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Guggenheim Museum led an
in-depth conservation study of the artworks assembled for the
retrospective as well as numerous other works from the various series.
The study, which involved the efforts of a multidisciplinary team of
curators, conservation scientists, and painting, paper, objects, and
textile conservators, analyzed the wide variety of original and complex
materials and working methods Burri used.

Exhibition History
Burri launched his career in
Rome but exhibited his work regularly in the United States, beginning in
the early 1950s at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, the Stable
Gallery and the Martha Jackson Gallery, both in New York. In 1953,
Guggenheim Museum director and curator James Johnson Sweeney included
Burri in the landmark exhibition Younger European Painters: A Selection,
and he wrote the first monograph on the artist (1955). His awards
include a third prize at the Pittsburgh International, Carnegie Museum
of Art (1959); Premio dell’Ariete in Milan (1959); UNESCO Prize at the
São Paulo Biennial (1959); Critics’ Prize at the Venice Biennale (1960);
Premio Marzotto (1965), and Grand Prize at the São Paulo Biennial
(1965). Burri’s first U.S. retrospective was organized by the Museum of
Fine Arts, Houston (1963). Other major exhibitions include
retrospectives at the Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (1972), and
the University of California’s Frederick S. Wight Gallery, Los Angeles
(1977), which traveled to the Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San
Antonio, Texas, and the Guggenheim Museum (1978). In 1994, his work was
included in The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943–1968, also at the Guggenheim.

Education and Public Programs
Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting
will be accompanied by a series of public programs, including
exhibition tours, Italian neorealist films, and two Theater of War
productions that feature readings of classic Greek plays to serve as a
catalyst for discussion about visible and invisible wounds inflicted by
war. Additionally, the Guggenheim will present a reinterpretation of November Steps,
a 1973 dance piece choreographed by Burri’s wife Minsa Craig with set
design and costumes by the artist and music by Tōru Takemitsu. Tom Gold
Dance will perform the piece in the museum’s rotunda on November 12.
Full information will be released in the coming months at guggenheim.org/calendar.

Exhibition Catalogue
Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting
is accompanied by a 280-page, richly illustrated scholarly exhibition
catalogue that includes a five-chapter essay by Emily Braun, a text by
Megan Fontanella on Burri’s collectors in the United States, and essays
on each of Burri’s series, authored by Braun and Carol Stringari, which
analyze his methods and materials in depth. The publication is the first
major English monograph on Burri, contains a wealth of new research and
interpretation, and will be the standard reference on the artist for
years to come. The catalogue will be available for purchase at guggenheim.org/store.

About Lavazza
Lavazza prides itself as Italy’s
leading coffee brand and manufacturer. The company, founded in 1895, has
been led by the Lavazza family for over a century of business, and
currently operates in more than ninety countries. Lavazza has recently
made a second home in the United States as it expands its presence
across the globe. With a long history of support for the arts, including
Renaissance art, photography, design, and music, Lavazza joined the
Guggenheim’s efforts to promote greater understanding of Italian
Futurism through the major exhibition presented in New York in 2014.
Lavazza is proud this year to celebrate its own 120th birthday with
support for this sweeping retrospective of one of the pioneers of
modernism. Through its sponsorship of the exhibition Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting, Lavazza supports an art movement vital to its home country of Italy while also reaching an international audience.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to
promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the
modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education
programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network
that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New
York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since
expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), and the
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development).The Guggenheim
Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that
celebrate contemporary art, architecture, and design within and beyond
the walls of the museum, including the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art
Initiative and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art
Initiative. More information about the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
can be found at guggenheim.org.

VISITOR INFORMATION
Admission: Adults $25,
students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. The
Guggenheim’s free app, available with admission or by download to
personal devices, offers an enhanced visitor experience. The app
features content on special exhibitions as well as access to more than
1,500 works in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection and information
about the museum’s landmark building in English, French, German,
Italian, and Spanish. Verbal Description guides for select exhibitions
are also included for visitors who are blind or have low vision. The
Guggenheim app is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10
am–7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum
hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500 or visit the museum online at: guggenheim.org

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