The Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri was established in 1978 at the request of Alberto Burri (1915-1995), one of the most prominent artists of the twentieth century at an international level.
The three museum collections are exhibited in the fifteenth century Palazzo Albizzini in the historic centre of Città di Castello (artwork from 1948 to 1985) and at the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco [Former Tobacco Drying Sheds] (large cycles from the 70s and 90s and graphic work). Collectively the three exhibition spaces represent the most comprehensive collection of Alberto Burri’s work. The documentary section, displayed within the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco, completes and enriches the visit.
The Fondazione, with its museums, is to be considered “the last work” of the artist: we owe to him the choice of the architectural spaces, the principles that have guided the restoration to make an exhibitory space, the selection of the artwork as well as their setup.
The museums of the Burri Collection, the Library, the historic Archive and now the Documentary section make Città di Castello one of the most influential and significant Italian centres, both for quality and quantity, where you can learn about and study Alberto Burri’s art, and art from the late twentieth century.
Palazzo Albizzini dates back to the late fifteenth century and its ordinary layout evokes the understated Renaissance architecture of Florentine ancestry. The building belonged to the Albizzini family whose members were amongst the prominent figures in the historic events of Città di Castello at least until the seventeenth century: to Filippo Albizzini we owe the commission in 1504 to Raffaello Sanzio the panel with the Sposalizio della Vergine, intended for the family altar in the nearby San Francesco church and now on display at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan.
In Palazzo Albizzini, the display of works by Alberto Burri, arranged by the painter himself on two of the three floors, opened to the public in 1981 and includes 150 works dating from 1948 to 1985, chronologically ordered over 20 rooms. There is also a library and a documentary and photographic archive.
In the artworks displayed in Palazzo Albizzini the painter explores the expressive capabilities of materials used in daily life: pumice stone, bitumen, sand, sawdust, worn out sacks, balsa strips, old cloth of every type, sheets of iron, sheets of plastic; without ever distorting their essence he uses them as “colour”. What connects all of his artwork is the strong compositional layout and its relationship with the space.
In a suburb close to the centre of Città di Castello, the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco [Former Tobacco Drying Sheds], which opened in 1990, constitute an exemplary restoration of industrial archaeology carried out at the request of Alberto Burri, who imagined them as a suitable place to house his latest creations. 128 works created between 1974 and 1993 are exhibited here. Burri joins the Drying Sheds, just as he did at Palazzo Albizzini, respectful of the potential of the incredible space, bringing it together perfectly with his most recent artwork.
The enormous complex, that dates back to immediately after the war, was used to keep the tobacco cultivated in the Alta Valle del Tevere area and in 1966 it housed volumes of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale and the Court of Florence following flooding, until they were restored.
In the exhibited artwork the focus of the artist is primarily concentrated on one unique material: cellotex, a type of wood blend used from the first pictures in the 1950s as a support, that now becomes exposed and on which surfaces the artist intervenes sometimes scratching, carving or lifting the outer layer of cling film, other times painting it. The works of art are positioned in “cycles”, marking the breakthrough of Burri towards a more complex and monumental art, in which the artist is stimulated by the relationship of these pieces with the suggestive and captivating spaces of the drying sheds.
This section opened on the 12th March 2017 in the basement of the immense drying sheds to display all of the graphic artwork of the Maestro which includes 196 works created between 1957 and 1994.
The artist believes that graphic production is an experimental field just as much his other contemporary works. Various unknown aspects will “contaminate” even the unique artwork, others emerge with force in the graphic artwork: in 1947 at the presentation of Burri’s first exhibition in the La Margherita gallery in Rome; Emilio Villa collaborates with Burri for two poetry editions. To celebrate the 80th birthday of Giuseppe Ungaretti the book of poetry by Bruna Bianco and Ungaretti comes to light with a Combustione omaggio [Combustion tribute] by Alberto Burri. In the copy that the two poets dedicate to Burri, Ungaretti writes: “I love Burri, because not only is he the greatest painter of our time, but he is also the main cause of envy for me: as of today he is the first poet”.
Amongst the completely new techniques for graphics: Mixografia and multiple.
The documentary section provides appropriate and effective visual and multimedia instruments to learn about, understand and study of the artwork of Alberto Burri.
The life of Alberto Burri is completely traced back as far back as his birth in Città di Castello on the 12th March 1915, by presenting multiple experiences in the pictorial-sculptural and architectural field, encounters with critics and artists, personal exhibitions, the participation at international exhibitions and specialist texts which allow a deeper understanding of the man and the artist. Critical texts, classic texts, brochures, reviews, personal portfolios form a multimedia library which is accessible via the use of touch screen.
To conclude, in the room adjacent to the documentary section, it is possible to see videos and films dedicated to the Maestro and his work.
Fondazione Burri, a cura di Chiara Sarteanesi con testi di Maurizio Calvesi, Marco Di Capua, Lea Mattarella, Milano 1999;
Collezione Burri, a cura di Bruno Corà con foto di Aurelio Amendola, Gabriele Basilico, Vittorugo Contino, Perugia 2011.