Alberto Burri was born in Città di Castello, in Umbria in 1915. He earned a medical degree from the University of Perugia specializing in tropical medicine. On 12 October 1940, two days after Italy entered World War II, Burri was called up as a medic and sent to Libya in March 1943. On 8 May 1944 after the defeat of the Axis forces, his unit was captured in Tunisia, he was interned in Camp Howze prisoner-of-war camp in Gainesville, Texas, where he began to paint. His first paintings were views of the desert he could see from the prison camp and still life's with paints and canvases supplied by the YMCA. He primarily painted "nostalgic Umbrian landscapes and figures", as Milton Gendel described in an ArtNews issue published in 1954. He collected old burlap sacks and brought them with him upon his return to Italy and continued to use them in place of canvas. He continued to use burlap, having a supply from the local miller.