Atelier XYZ has recently captured the Great Cretto (Cretto di Burri), which is a landscape artwork undertaken by Alberto Burri in 1984 and left unfinished in 1989, based on the old city of Gibellina.
Along with six other villages in the Belice Valley, the historic center of Gibellina was destroyed in an earthquake on January 15, 1968, killing at least 200, injuring around 1,150, and leaving over 98,000 homeless. Over the years that followed, a new city, Nuova Gibellina, was constructed more than 20 km from its previous location, where mayor Ludovico Corrao called upon numerous architects and artists to help with reconstruction efforts. Among these creatives was Alberto Burri.
Work on the Cretto of Burri finally began in 1985 and was stopped in 1989, covering nearly 60,000 m² of the 80,000 m² lot. 30 years later, in May of 2015, the piece was finally completed as Burri had imagined it, just two decades after his passing in February of 1995. Beginning as a piece of public art, the intent was to construct a communal identity for local residents and Italians as a whole, crafting a monument reflecting profound cultural and social values.
Under those very same ideals, the Great Cretto of Gibellina Museum was opened in May 2019, commissioned by the city’s administration led by Salvatore Sutera, and ideated and curated by the Assessor of Culture, Tanino Bonifacio. “The Cretto is a place for narration and knowledge where life once flourished, now conserving its memory: what was once a tabernacle of death, today welcomes a monument generating life,” Bonifacio told Artribune.
The museum, situated in the old Church of Santa Caterina just 300 meters from the Cretto, was the only building to have survived the earthquake and is born from the need to recount the origins, the design, and the realization of Burri’s work.