Alberto Burri’s Otherworldly Earthwork Sets Stage for New Bottega Veneta Collaboration

They're celebrating their 50th anniversary.

The Art of Collaboration. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the storied Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta, creative director Tomas Maier has enlisted the visual powers of Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen to capture Alberto Burri’s magnus opus, Grande Cretto, an 80,000-square-foot work of landscape art set in the rolling hills of rural Sicily, for a new campaign that launches in late June.

Burri’s otherworldly earthwork is a massive maze of colossal white concrete blocks that appear, when seen from above, to be a swath of land fractured by an earthquake, and was designed to commemorate the victims of a 1968 tremor in the small city of Gibellina.

Work on the site, which began in 1985, discontinued abruptly in 1989 after a lack of funding stopped it in its tracks. But in 2015, to mark Burri’s 100th anniversary, construction began again, and it finally, decades later, made its much-anticipated public debut.

The project, which also celebrates Maier’s 15 years as the company’s creative director, features models decked in Bottega Veneta’s architectural designs set against Burri’s sculptural environment. This collaboration adds to Maier’s history of teaming up with top-tier artists like Annie Leibovitz, Ryan McGinley, and Robert Longo for each of the fashion house’s seasonal campaigns.

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Sassen, who works in fashion and fine art and is renowned for her use of geometric shapes, has collaborated with the fashion house for its fall/winter 2016 campaign. Here, she successfully combines her interest in abstraction while capturing the cerebral mood of Burri’s work. Burri, whose legacy is inextricably tied to his artistic contributions to commemorating the victims of World War II, is comfortably seated as one of the 20th century’s premiere abstract artists.

“Viviane’s photography has an inescapable enigmatic quality to it, a refinement and acute independence,” Tomas Maier told artnet News. “Together we have explored both the artistic landmarks for the campaigns that are more than a backdrop but rather an added voice to our collaboration.”

As part of their winter campaign, which belongs to Maier’s larger body of collaborative works called “The Art of Collaboration,” Bottega Veneta asked Sassen to film a two-minute video featuring models wandering through the concrete maze.

You can get a sneak preview of Sassen’s video below:

This isn’t the first time Maier collaborated with top photographers in the company’s photographic campaign. In 2010, Nan Goldin was asked to produce a portfolio of images in what Maier once described as “an old tumbledown house in a bad neighborhood on Staten Island,” adding that “the shabbiness and rawness of the environment inspired her.” Three years earlier, Sam Taylor-Johnson was commissioned for a series of photographs illustrating the many stages in the life of a relationship.


Earlier this month, photographs selected from Maier’s “The Art of Collaboration,” filled the Ullens Center in Beijing. The images were culled from Bottega Veneta’s 2015 book featuring its collaborations with artists.

“I have been collecting photography for a long time,” Maier told artnet News at the Ullens Center opening, adding that he saw his chance to “create ad campaigns differently,” by working “with art photographers, instead of fashion photographers.” The results speak for themselves.

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