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Museo degli ex seccatoi del tabacco

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Cultivation of tobacco seems to have begun spreading throughout Umbria in the 16th century. Later, the small Republic of Cospaia, a free-trade area between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal State, became a thriving hub for smuggling and remained so until the 1970s. In the post-WWII period, the cultivation of tropical tobacco produced in the area became no longer profitable and was slowly abandoned, with the consequent neglect of the large warehouses of the Fattoria Autonoma Tabacchi in Città di Castello, which had been used for drying the leaves.

In 1978, the artist Alberto Burri secured and started to use the warehouses as a workshop for the creation of large-scale artworks. Born in Città di Castello in 1915, Burri was a doctor by profession and began to devote himself to art during WWII. His work is considered part of the informal art movement, characterized by the use of innovative materials and massive dimensions (one of his most famous works, “Il Cretto” of Gibellina Vecchia in Sicily, is a huge expanse of white concrete that covers the ruins of the earthquake of 1968).

On several occasions during his life (he died in Nice in 1995), Burri donated his works to his hometown, collaborating with the Palazzo Albizzini Foundation, which acquired the entire complex in 1989 and launched a structured project of reclamation and renovation. The large pavilions, completely painted in black according to the artist’s wishes, display as many as 128 large-scale works – some are even positioned on the lawn outside the building – divided and organized in the exhibition spaces according to cycles designed by Burri himself: Viaggio (1979), Orsanmichele (1980), Sestante (1982), Rosso e Nero (1983-84), T Cellotex (1975-84), Annotarsi (1985-87), Non ama il Nero (1988), Grandi Neri (1988- 90), Metamorfotex (1991), and Il Nero e l’Oro (1992-93).

The exhibition at the ‘Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco’ (former tobacco-drying plant) was inaugurated in 1990 with an area of some 7,500 square metres, housing the artist’s works produced between the years 1970 and 1993.

The remaining works, about 130 pieces made by Burri between 1948 and 1989, are at another exhibition location at Palazzo Albizzini, in Via Albizzini, not far from Palazzo Vitelli a Sant’Egidio.

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