Vanna Volpi Picchi talks to us about the little known side of Burri; his love of hunting, his talent for sports and all the things he was passionate about. The brooch that Burri designed for the daughter of one of his best friends has, in the meantime, been around the world being shown in international exhibitions. Burri’s art and imagination had no boundaries.
“For us he was part of the family. I’d known Burri ever since I was a child, as he was a friend of my father, who had helped him early in his career. While he was a prisoner of war in Texas he started painting and when he returned after the war he decided to end his career as a doctor in order to continue painting. When I got married, he gave me a brooch that he had designed and made himself.”
The brooch in question (which belongs to the Picchi family’s private collection but is regularly catalogued among the works of the Maestro), is gold, 6.5 by 5.9 cm, and over the years has been included in some of Burri’s most important exhibitions; such as the Guggenheim in New York (1994 – 1995) in an exhibition entitled ‘The Italian Metamorphosis 1943/68’, and the Kunstmuseum in Germany. Burri created a mini-series of brooches: “I seem to remember that he created three, one for me”, Vanna tells us, “one for another friend’s daughter and a third which went to America.” When he gave it to me he told me not to value the fact that it was gold but because it was a unique piece that would stay with me forever. It’s valuable because he made it! Other works of this type include a gold belt he made for his wife Minsa Craig.”
But what was Alberto Burri like in private? “He was a simple person”, concludes Vanna, “a big hunting fan – he even created the inlay for his rifle… and was an excellent shot, so much so that he had a field for clay pigeon shooting at his home in Morra. He had a talent for sport and was also a photography enthusiast, and when it came to literature he especially enjoyed reading adventure novels.”