“Cellotex” by Burri, the “dermatologist of art”

Here are the “Cellotex” created by material artist Alberto Burri (1915-1995).

After working with bags, metal, clay, wood, and burned plastic, in the 1970s Burri started using an industrial mixture of sawdust and glue meant for insulation in construction, which he had used to support his works in the past. He dug it out, carved it, and presented it to the public for the first time in 1975.

Art historian Francesco Bonami explained, “Alberto Burri was born in Città di Castello in 1915 and graduated in medicine in 1940; he decided to become an artist while imprisoned [in an American POW camp during the Second World War, editor’s note]. He started making art with what his Guantanamo Bay offered: instead of plastic garbage bags, there were burlap sacs. Once the doctor launched his new career, he was unstoppable. His works became details of a larger universe, expanding beyond the boundaries of his imagination.”

“Instead of things, he spoke about matter. The great art historian Giulio Carlo Argan once wrote that when you look at one of Burri’s works you are not looking at a Morandi. […] Meaning that Morandi looked at the bottles, Burri at the glass. Like a doctor, he checked the surface, the skin, the pores, the hair, like a dermatologist of art” (translated from “Si crede Picasso: come distinguere un vero artista contemporaneo da uno che non lo è”, Mondadori, Milan 2010).

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