Alberto Burri (March 12th 1915 - February 15th 1995) was an Italian painter and one of the seminal figures of 20th Century Italian art, yet he is little known outside of Italy. Burri earned a medical degree was a military physician during World War II. He only began to paint when he was a prisoner of war in Texas. After his release from prison he moved to Rome.
Burri had a preference for simple materials. The Italian artist was a precursor of minimal art and heavily influenced the Italian Arte Povera movement. His work "Cretto" (circa 1971-73), a cracked surface in synthetic materials on cellotex, one of his favored supports in the later work, has the arbitrary feel of a random segment of dried-out, cracking ground. The subject of the Cretto series relates to the monumental earthworks piece he named Il Grande Cretto for the Sicilian town of Gibellina destroyed by earthquake in 1968.
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