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Alberto Burri was born in 1915, in Città di Castello, Italy. He studied medicine and served in Africa as a military doctor in the Italian army during World War II.

In 1943, he was captured prisoner in Texas, where he started painting as an autodidact.

After the end of the war, in 1946, Burri moved to Rome, where one year later he held his first solo exhibition at Galleria La Margherita.

From 1948, he developed his unique abstract style, incorporating to his painting different materials like iron, wood and plastic to the artworks. His first experiments involved resins and pigments and they are called Catrami, Muffe and Gobbi. Using sacks and linens he gave origin to Sacchi and Bianchi series.

In the mid-1950s, Burri began burning his materials, a technique he named Combustione (combustion). Burri soon began attracting the attention of critics and galleries. Outside Italy, his work was particularly appreciated in the United States, where he held many solo exhibitions starting from the 1950s. In 1965, he was awarded the Grand Prize jointly with Victor Vasarely at the Sao Paulo Biennale.

The production of his later years is dominated by Cretti, monochromatic layers of painting with deep cracks in the surface. Alberto Burri died in 1995, in Nice, France.