Burri began to devote himself to painting towards the middle of the 1940s, producing small landscapes and still lifes, distinguished by a marked sensitivity to the physical qualities of the paint. The Still life in the Vatican collections is a rare example from this brief phase, followed in 1948-1949 by a clear change of direction towards informal experiments aimed at developing the expressive potential of the material. Burri was interested in disrupting normal painting procedures, attempting new combinations: he therefore began to mix pigments with oil and tar, vinyl glue and cementite. Tar II is one of the first examples of this research, which the artist pursued in more depth by turning his hand to other different materials. Aside from his famous jute “sacks”, he also used plastics, wood, cellotex and iron, gradually increasing the size of his creations up to his Grande Cretto of Gibellina, realised between 1984 and 1989: a monochrome reconstruction of the streets of the town, which had been destroyed by the 1968 earthquake, using the rubble.