by Cristina Crisci
There is no denying the fact that there is a renewed focus on the work of Alberto Burri. There seems to be an increased curiosity about his genre. One of his pieces recently fetched 5,600,000 Euros at Christie’s, London.
These are all signs we should take as a boost with the forthcoming centenary of the birth of the maestro, (March 12th 1915 in Città di Castello). Among the highlights is an exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York, the restoration of ‘Cretto di Gibellina’, participation in Expo 2015 and the rebirth of the Teatro Continuo at the Triennale di Milano. The celebrations, spread over the whole year, have triggered the Burri Commission to come up with the idea of a law. Behind this idea is Walter Verini, as tifernate* as Burri.
How did you come up with this idea?
«I came up with it simply because Burri belongs to the nation. The whole country must take this opportunity to promote and enhance his greatness. The bill has already obtained the signatures of three ex-ministers of Culture; Walter Veltroni, Giovanna Melandri, Rocco Buttiglione».
On a political level the project hasn’t encountered any opposition. You were the first signatory, after which all the Members elected in Umbria signed. Is this an example of art uniting people?
«I think so. Art itself is a universal message. Art and culture are things that make you feel better, you ‘breathe them in’. And then investing in culture also means developing tourism and thereby giving life to hotels, restaurants, businesses etc. – investing in these things is investing in the future. In this sense, the challenge is a part of the Perugia/ Assisi Capital of Culture 2019 bid».
The law provides for the formation of a committee composed of representatives, (three appointed by the President, three by the Minister of Culture and one each from Umbria, Perugia, Città di Castello, and the Burri Foundation). Who are the members?
«In the coming weeks, with the coordination of the Minister Franceschini, the Committee will be formed and, appointed by Decree of the President. I hope and believe that with all the parties involved, it will add substance to this campaign at a national level. Then it would be nice if minister Franceschini was in Città di Castello to announce it».
The official program of the celebrations will be presented at a press conference in Rome; however some of it has already been leaked. Can you tell us any more?
«What I’ve mentioned so far covers it. The exhibition in New York will have worldwide exposure. The revival of the Teatro Continuo in Milan has great significance along with the restoration of ‘Cretto di Gibellina’. The actual printing of the catalogue is well on its way as is a worldwide conference on Burri. I also believe the government should include Burri at EXPO’ 2015, making it coincide with the centenary and the release of commemorative stamps. Finally, I hope that the current problems with the exhibition of Piero della Francesca and Burri are resolved and that it will open in September; it would be of great value and appeal».
Will Città di Castello have a central role in the celebrations?
«Certainly. The role of Città di Castello is critical. Why? Because Burri and Città di Castello are tied ‘ ontologically ‘. Because the maestro left his works to his town».
Any ideas on how to involve young people?
«One idea might be to collect all of the theses that have been written on Burri all over the world. It would be nice to gather ten, a hundred, a thousand young graduates or final year students in Città di Castello. And why not promote residences for young artists who are inspired by Burri? These ideas are do-able».
Do you think that projects like Piazza Burri and the future Centre of Contemporary Art at Palazzo Vitelli in Sant’Egidio can create that desired link between the town and Burri, or you do you think something else is needed?
«These two projects are of great value and will strengthen the relationship between the town and Burri, redesigning and redeveloping, for example the space in front of Albizzini Palace and Palazzo Vitelli».
In recent weeks there has been quite a controversy triggered by the interview that the former President of the Burri Foundation gave to Maurizio Calvesi of Altrapagina, where he cast doubts on the management of the institution. Do you think this should be clarified or is it best to move on?
«I believe that we should put a moratorium on the controversy. We should forget about the arguments and discussions and focus on the Centenary by being transparent and open. You can never be too open or too transparent. We need to celebrate the anniversary of Burri and live as best we can. I think that this now is the best way to plan the future of the Maestro’s art».
*’Tifernate’ describes someone from Città di Castello.