Alberto Burri: Mixoblack
Alberto Burri: Mixoblack
Mixoblack is a series of 10 prints on handmade paper that Alberto Burri produced in collaboration with Mixografia in 1990, marking a departure from his previous ways of working toward an approach of subtle minimalism. Burri centers these artworks around their deep darkness, which he layers with textured geometries achieved through Mixografia’s unique relief printing process. Using only shades of black and textural variations, Burri simmers form and space down to their essence.
The surface of each print in the ten-piece suite shifts between shiny and matte black, overlaid with angular and round geometric shapes that stand out against varied backgrounds. Burri determines smoothness and roughness according to the angles and curves of each composition, creating patterns of texture intertwined with form. Burri designed each piece in the suite as part of a cohesive unit, creating a carefully unified composition that embraces the importance of texture and shape in creating visual meaning.
Burri created the models for Mixoblack using acrylic and marble powder on Masonite, emphasizing gestural expressiveness by way of textural manipulation. He uses a combination of matte and semi-gloss inks juxtaposition of light and texture that adds another level of dimensionality to each composition. While designing these objects, Burri revealed that his fascination with the color black stemmed in part from its association with endings, small and large, from the termination of a day to the moment of death. On the other hand, Burri understood the color black as a first step before the beginning of a regenerative cycle. One of his final artworks, Burri presents the notion that even in total darkness there is the substance and the promise of a new beginning. Mixoblack challenges the viewer to consider the space between “beginnings” and “endings”, to see the coalescing of form even in total darkness.
Mixoblack suite installation.
"Form and space! The end. There is nothing else."
Alberto Burri on the question of what his art is about, in a 1994 interview by his friend Stefano Zorzi.
Burri working on a maquette for the Mixoblack suite
Burri signing a Mixoblack print at his studio
Alberto Burri with Lea Remba
Alberto Burri (1915-1995) was an Italian artist primarily based in his hometown of Citta di Castello. Burri rarely spoke about his long and prolific career, during which he produced a diverse body of artwork, from paintings to sculptures to installations and printed multiples. As a prisoner of war in Texas during World War II, Burri took up painting as a leisure activity and gradually worked toward pursuing art as a primary endeavor. He named his artworks unambiguously: Catrami (tars), Bianchi (whites), Saachi (sacks), Combustioni plastiche (plastic combustions), Cretti (cracks). Burri’s straightforward approach to artmaking reached a crest towards the end of his career, as he became drawn to creating pieces in monotone, building images from subtle variations in texture. A far cry from the torn, burnt, smeared and slashed assemblages of his early career, the artwork that Burri began to produce in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s truly embodied his mantra of “form and space.”