Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Following Piero della Francesca/detour

From Sansepolcro we headed toward Citta' di Castello, further down along the Tiber valley. There isn't any painting by Piero there, but two interesting museums devoted to Alberto Burri.
Burri is a painter and sculptor who died in 1995. Originally a physician who took part in WW II, he started to paint during his time as a POW in the States.
His paintings were made with different materials of which he highlighted the qualities.

He sewed and painted on raw canvas, he etched and combusted wood, ignited cellophane etc. In the series "Cretti" he explored the texture of dry clay grounds.

The latest works have a smooth surface and are more about design and interaction of shapes and colours.

Burri has two dedicated museums in Citta' di Castello. One is in town housed in the historical Palazzo Albizzini.
The Albizzini family had a dedicated chapel in the church of San Francesco. It is here where the Sposalizio della Vergine by Raffaello was originally located. Raffaello's painting is now in the core room of the Accademia di Brera in Milan, where it hangs literally side to side with Piero's Madonna and Child with Saints ( I was there earlier this year).

The first museum holds a selection of pieces by Burri displayed chronologically.
The most striking place to visit though is the second center belonging to the Fondazione Burri. The building is a former tobacco drying plant. I think it is the largest space ever dedicated to a single artist in the world: 7500 sqm, it is simply huge. A part was given to Burri for free in 1978, and it is now completely occupied by his work.
His paintings, seen in the monumental and austere industrial setting, acquire an impressive status and a strong spirituality.

Somehow the visit to Burri's museums fit in with Piero. His geometry, his attention to the design and partition of the canvas, his earthy colours, golds and vivid reds resonate of Piero's works.

Next stop, Urbino.

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