Burri started experimenting with this technique in the mid-50s, leaving burning marks onto sacking, wood, plastic, metal and iron.
From the 60s on, plastic turned into one of the most inspiring materials for this artist.
It is indeed rather easy to find even on the Internet clips of Burri burning thin strata of polyvinylchlorid and polyethylene, moulding this artificial material and creating bubbles, folds and pleats (check out the video embedded at the end of this post).
Burri conceived fire as a destructive power that was also endowed with a great creative energy.
One of the most interesting works Burri made with this technique is "Rosso Plastica" (Red Plastic, 1962): fire created a violent chromatic game in this work, carving strange and disquieting shapes in the plastic, leaving holes that opened like bleeding wounds or passages to another reality, like Lucio Fontana’s slits.
As a whole the collection scored high on a commercial level: ample volume was the keyword for both dresses and full kimono-like sleeves; the main palette mainly revolved around bright orange/peach, navy/light turquoise with splashes of violet, but there were also quite a few optical prints.
Designs were obviously accompanied by Fendi’s accessories, bags and belts included, thought the most interesting pieces were the multi-coloured micro-dots of fur woven together to form mini-shawls.
Yet the two elements that made me think about Burri were the cotton and organza dresses with drawstring waistlines and burnt edges that symbolised the heat of summer or the sun burning (a theme also used for the runway background) and a blouse with matching pants that seemed to be made of plastic (a material also employed in a vertical striped skirt in red, blue and white and in a blue dress) that uncannily called to mind Burri’s Rosso Plastica.
Want to experiment with Burri's technique on clothes/accessories? Watch Burri at work in the following video, but remember to keep a fire extinguisher close at hand.