Prices for Alberto Burri’s work have been rising steadily as dealers and collectors shift focus toward other postwar artists and movements that can appeal to collectors’ taste for abstracts and for new artists. A number of artists have already gone through this process over the past half dozen years. Some were introduced to collectors through major museum shows like the Guggenheim’s Gutai show two years ago.
Now the Guggenheim announces a major Burri retrospective for this Fall:
His work could never be classified as either painting or sculpture. Nor was it installation. Rather than using the traditional canvas, he worked with found materials, like burlap sacks, discarded bed linens, wood veneer, industrial plastics and rolled sheet metal, which he would stitch, staple, glue, melt or solder. He also tended to work in series — among them were “Sacks,” his stitched and patched bits of torn burlap bags often with gashes of red pigment or touches of gold; “Whites,” fashioned from old linens and white pigments; and Plastic Combustions,” burned or scorched sheets of industrial plastics. The exhibition will include examples of all of them.
“Although long recognized for his use of materials, what the show will also illustrate how he was a key figure of the monochrome in white, black and red,” Ms. Braun said. “Burri was often wrongly categorized as a gestural painter,” she added, referring to artists who used bold, physical gestures like dripping or smearing. “But his range and his manual dexterity was extraordinary.”
The show’s title, “The Trauma of Painting,” she said, refers both to the physical trauma of the artwork as well as the psychological trauma of Europe after World War II.