The “Grande Ferro R” (Big Iron R) is a sculptural work by Alberto Burri (Città di Castello 1915 – Paris 1995), created ad hoc in 1990 for the multifunctional complex, Palazzo Mauro De André. The work was commissioned by Raul Gardini from the architect Francesco Moschini and with the collaboration of the architect Carlo Maria Sadich for the decoration of the square.
The main theme is that of theatre, which the Umbrian artist has investigated many times, and which has a strong reference to another work, exhibited in 1984 at the Giardini of the Venice Biennale, which was also taken up in the pictorial masterpiece Cellotex of 1994, exhibited in Paris.
Burri conceived his fascinating piece of art, 12 metres high and made up of five low arches, as if it were part of the orchestra of a Greek theatre, in dialogue with an ideal city cavea, referring to the idea of creativity in the making. In its vertical elements, decorated with foliage, we can see the interweaving of the pine trees of the Pinewood of Classe . In Burri’s work there is also an evocation of the hull of an overturned, abandoned ship, which recalls the maritime vocation of Ravenna, a place of landing, welcome and confluence of cultures.
As with his famous sacks, the result is not a continuous surface, but a succession of breaks and cuts, stitches and random spikes.
His works are exhibited in some of the most important museums in the world: the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome, the Castello di Rivoli (TO), the Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto.
There is still a heated debate about this important work and especially about its location and value, including its possible relocation to another part of the city.