Sarah Crowner on Alberto Burri


As part of the Annual Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists (A.i.A.’s August issue), we preview the 2014-15 season of museum exhibitions worldwide. In addition to offering their own top picks, our editors asked select artists, curators and collectors to identify the shows they are looking forward to. Here, artist Sarah Crowner talks about Alberto Burri.

“Although I’ve never had a chance to see Alberto Burri’s work in person, I know that it needs to be experienced with your full body. That’s how it reveals its spirit. Because the pieces are cut, burned, torched and stitched, they are clearly not images, they’re objects. It’s the kind of art that will grow and expand as you approach it physically. I feel that’s important to my work, too. It may seem very flat and image-conscious from afar, but, as you get closer, you realize that it’s a construction of parts stitched and joined together. 

“When I think about Burri I’m reminded of Claes Oldenburg’s street works from the late 1950s, which were also made out of burlap and were cut and burned. When I worked as Oldenburg’s studio manager in the early 2000s, I was taken by his concept of finding what you see [on the street] and making a painting, which Burri also did. This is a very expansive attitude. If you consider what was happening in Europe and New York in the late 1950s, you can see that there were lots of crossovers, even in the age before the Internet. Oldenburg and Burri didn’t know each other but were both using burlap and not calling the results paintings but ‘art.’ Yves Klein was blowtorching and so was Burri. There was something in the air.”

“Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting,” Guggenheim Museum, New York, Oct. 9, 2015-Jan. 6, 2016. 


Sarah Crowner is an artist based in New York.