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Werner Burri

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Werner Burri

*  1898 Thunstetten, Schweiz
† 1972 Bern, Schweiz


The Swiss Werner Burri, born in Thunstetten in 1898, counts among the most important Bauhaus ceramists. He abandons his engineering studies in Zurich after a short time, in order to entirely turn to painting. In 1920 he works for Ernst for a short time, who had first success with his figurative paintings in those days. But Werner Burri would soon change his subject again: He enrolled at the Bauhaus in fall 1921, where he attended the preparatory course of Johannes Itten. Afterwards he received training in the ceramics department of the Bauhaus. At first he works in the workshop of Max Krehan in Dornburg, followed by some time in the New Stables Workshops and finally in the foundry. Among Werner Burri's early works counts a small glazed vase in graphite black with a compressed globular body and a conical elongated neck, made in 1924, two years before his journeyman's examination.
The pottery workshop was abrogated when the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925 and became part of the Weimar School of Crafts and Architecture. Werner Burri continued to work in the Dornburg workshop, of which Otto Lindig was now in charge, Burri and Lindig alike prefered an organic, flowing use of forms.
His works attained a broader effect after Burri had changed to the stoneware factory Velten-Vordamm in January 1928, where he was head of the pattern shop, succeeding Theodor Bogler, who had joined a monastery in 1927. Velten-Vordamm also offered Werner Burri the opportunity to put his ideas into practice. After the company went bankrupt in 1931, he had to look for other co-operations and returned to his home at first, realizing projects with the workshop of Marcel Noverraz in Geneva (1932/33). In 1934 the co-operation with Hedwig Bollhagen's HB-workshops in Marwitz near Velten took him back to his previous place of activities, finally returning to Switzerland again in late 1939, in order to work as a free ceramist. Between 1941 and 1963 he did a lectureship at the Bern School of Pottery. Werner Burri, who was a founding member of the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Schweizerischer Keramiker" (Association of Swiss Ceramists) in 1959, dies in Bern on May 13, 1972.

Cf.: Keramik und Bauhaus. Ex. cat. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Gerhard-Marcks-Haus Bremen and Hetjens-Museum Düsseldorf, Berlin 1989.