17 variazioni su temi proposti per una pura ideologia fonetica (Seventeen variations on proposed themes for a pure phonetic ideology), Burri's first illustrated book, includes three original works: a painted cover incorporating gold leaf; a pen-and-ink drawing, also with gold leaf; and a collage made of a partially burnt fragment of fabric. Each copy in the edition of ninety-nine included unique variants of each of these elements; this is the only copy known to have survived intact (others were taken apart and the works sold separately).
Trained as a doctor, Burri started working as an artist after his release from an American prisoner-of-war camp in 1946. Influenced in part by Jean Fautrier, he began incorporating worn-out clothes, wood, plastic, and other nontraditional materials into his paintings, including his signature burlap. The acquisition of this rare book strengthens the Museum's holdings of Burri's work, and, moreover, is a unique addition to the Museum's collection of illustrated books.
Gallery label from New to the Print Collection: Matisse to Bourgeois, June 13, 2012–January 7, 2013.