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Alberto Burri

Grande Ferro M3


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Alberto Burri emerged as a self-taught artist in Italy just as modernist abstraction was regaining popularity throughout Europe and the United States after World War II. His Ferri (Iron) series begun in 1957 is a group of large-scale works made out of sheets of iron that are cut, welded, and shaped into abstract compositions. Many critics understood the signature features of these works—the seams left by welding and the open cuts into the plates of iron—as an allusion to Italy’s recent traumatic past, both the very real disasters of the war and the more metaphorical crisis of painting in the postwar period. Grande Ferro M3 features an open joint at the center marked by a slash of red paint, provoking competing associations of physical danger and brute strength. Its overt references to the act of wounding can be aligned with an existential pessimism prevalent in postwar Europe. The work is neither purely formalist nor purely symbolic but is caught, as many works of art of this time were, somewhere in between. [Permanent collection label, 2017]

  • Artist Alberto Burri (Italian, 1915–1995)
  • Title Grande Ferro M3
  • Date 1959
  • Medium Welded iron with paint and nails
  • Dimensions unframed | 78 9/16 x 74 5/8 x 3 in.
  • Credit line Gift of Richard K. Weil, 1963
  • Copyright © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
  • Object number WU 4065

Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, New York), 10/09/2015 - 01/06/2016

From Picasso to Fontana: Collecting Modern and Postwar Art in the Eisendrath Years, 1960–1968
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/23/2015 - 04/19/2015

North Foyer installation Fall 2006
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 10/25/2006 - 12/18/2006

International Abstraction: Art of the 1950s from the Washington University Collections
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/22/1999 - 03/28/1999

Modernism at Midstream: From Europe to America and Back Again
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/04/1983 - 11/06/1983

Alberto Burri: A Retrospective View 1948–77
Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, Texas), 01/08/1978 - 02/19/1978
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, New York), 06/15/1978 - 09/03/1978
Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, 09/25/1977 - 12/04/1977
Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 03/30/1978 - 05/21/1978

Alberto Burri
Martha Jackson Gallery (New York, New York), 02/02/1960 - 02/27/1960

Richard K. Weil

Inscription Verso, center left, in paint: Burri 59 / GRANDE FERRO / M3

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