Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti. Photo: Pasquale Leccese

 

Alighiero Boetti (1940–94) is one of the most important figures in post-war contemporary art and in the history of Italian art more generally. Rising to prominence in the 1960s and originally tied to the Arte Povera movement, Boetti later sought to distance himself from his compatriots and by the start of the 1970s was undertaking investigations into a string of dualities, from order and disorder, to indeterminacy and logic, and classification and boundlessness. Through drawing, painting, sculpture, embroidery, weaving, mail art and conceptual practices, Boetti engaged himself with an unpredictable and expanding global perspective.

 

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From the outset, Boetti’s Arte Povera assemblages differed from those of his contemporaries; he was not so concerned with metaphor but rather concepts. The playful and often humorous sincerity and directness of their material gesture related more to the object’s function in the real world than abiding to traditional ideas of sculpture. Colonna (1967), a stack of hundreds of paper doilies, or Mimetico (1966), a painting of stretched camouflage fabric, evince an attitude that the choice and assembly of such ostensibly poor materials can constitute the smallest act of artistic creation. He later assigned himself the task of tracing over the grid of squared paper, exploring the idea of pointless, time-wasting work, and filling large sheets with endless biro scribbles.

Informed by his wide travels, Boetti addressed many of the concerns that artists today find equally fruitful; notions related to time and the temporal nature of making art, often with purposeful inefficiency; delegating fabrication to skilled craftspeople; and geopolitics and the social context of labor.  Boetti first visited Kabul, Afghanistan in 1971 and a few months after his first visit he returned to establish the One Hotel with local waiter and entrepreneur Gholam Dastaghir. Here his Mappe (1971–1994) were also conceived, colorful weavings depicting maps of the world with the colors of each country filled in with their flag, produced by local craftswomen. For Boetti, the Mappe allowed him to “do nothing”, as not only were they made by others but he didn’t draw or design anything; the shapes of the countries’ borders and the designs of the flags were somewhat fixed. What emerges from the work is its concept with variances left to chance or the choices of the craftspeople, or later physical changes to national borders. Therefore the sea is sometimes pink or Sufi poems are written into the margins. Rather than just opposing order and disorder, he used the processes and logic as a means of creation.

Another project, Viaggi Postali (1969–70) consisted of him sending letters to artists and figures he admired using fictional addresses; once they were returned he sent them on again on imaginary journeys, playing with chance within the order of the postal system and then even classifying them by the color of the stamps. The systems and sequences of classification and the knowledge they create and perpetuate never ceased to interest Boetti. A persistent interest in duality and multiplicity is even seen in the e (and) he added as his middle name, suggesting he is two separate people to challenge the idea of the unified artist. Similarly, by collaborating with creative workers from other cultures, he created a nuanced perspective on global political events and challenged a mode of art production and reception dominated by the west.

 

Works
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Mappa, 1989

Alighiero Boetti
Mappa, 1989
Embroidery on nettle
115 × 215 cm
45 1/4 × 84 5/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Kabul, 1970

Alighiero Boetti
Kabul, 1970
Collage
57 × 76 × 3.5 cm (framed)
22 3/8 × 30 × 1 3/8 inches (framed)

Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Niente da vedere niente da nascondere, 1969

Alighiero Boetti
Niente da vedere niente da nascondere, 1969
Iron and glass
300 × 400 × 4 cm
118 × 157 1/2 × 1 5/8 inches

More views
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970

Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970
Lacquer on wood
28.5 × 28.5 cm
11 1/8 × 11 1/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970

Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970
Spray paint on paper mounted on canvas
71.3 × 71.3 cm
28 × 28 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Tutto, 1988

Alighiero Boetti
Tutto, 1988
Embroidery on nettle
100 × 107 cm
39 3/8 × 42 1/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Fortuna e Sfortuna, 1993
Piegare e Spiegare
Un pozzo senza fine, 1991

Alighiero Boetti
Fortuna e Sfortuna, 1993
Piegare e Spiegare
Un pozzo senza fine, 1991

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Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Ononimo, 1973

Alighiero Boetti
Ononimo, 1973
Biro on paper, framed, 11 parts
70 × 100 cm each
27 5/8 × 39 3/8 inches each

More views
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Mixed media
82 sheets, each 55 × 45 cm
Box: 65 × 46 × 7 cm
82 sheets, each 21 5/8 × 17 3/4 inches
Box: 25 5/8 × 18 × 2 3/4 inches

More views
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Mixed media
82 sheets, each 55 × 45 cm
Box: 65 × 46 × 7 cm
82 sheets, each 21 5/8 × 17 3/4 inches
Box: 25 5/8 × 18 × 2 3/4 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Printed cards, 10 panels, colour, published by Emme Edizioni
25 × 37 × 0.7 cm
9 7/8 × 14 5/8 × 1/4 inches

More views
Details
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Mappa, 1989
Embroidery on nettle
115 × 215 cm
45 1/4 × 84 5/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Mappa, 1989
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Kabul, 1970
Collage
57 × 76 × 3.5 cm (framed)
22 3/8 × 30 × 1 3/8 inches (framed)

Alighiero Boetti
Kabul, 1970
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Niente da vedere niente da nascondere, 1969
Iron and glass
300 × 400 × 4 cm
118 × 157 1/2 × 1 5/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Niente da vedere niente da nascondere, 1969
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Niente da vedere niente da nascondere, 1969

Alighiero Boetti
Niente da vedere niente da nascondere, 1969
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970
Lacquer on wood
28.5 × 28.5 cm
11 1/8 × 11 1/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970
Spray paint on paper mounted on canvas
71.3 × 71.3 cm
28 × 28 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Millenovecentosettanta, 1970
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Tutto, 1988
Embroidery on nettle
100 × 107 cm
39 3/8 × 42 1/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Tutto, 1988
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Fortuna e Sfortuna, 1993
Piegare e Spiegare
Un pozzo senza fine, 1991

Alighiero Boetti
Fortuna e Sfortuna, 1993
Piegare e Spiegare
Un pozzo senza fine, 1991
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Fortuna e Sfortuna, 1993
Embroidery on nettle
17.8 × 19 × 2 cm
7 × 7 1/2 × 7/8 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Fortuna e Sfortuna, 1993
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Piegare e Spiegare
Embroidery on nettle
24 × 24 cm
9 1/2 × 9 1/2 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Piegare e Spiegare
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Un pozzo senza fine, 1991
Embroidery on nettle
23.5 × 23.5 cm
9 1/4 × 9 1/4 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Un pozzo senza fine, 1991
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Ononimo, 1973
Biro on paper, framed, 11 parts
70 × 100 cm each
27 5/8 × 39 3/8 inches each

Alighiero Boetti
Ononimo, 1973
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Ononimo, 1973

Alighiero Boetti
Ononimo, 1973
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Mixed media
82 sheets, each 55 × 45 cm
Box: 65 × 46 × 7 cm
82 sheets, each 21 5/8 × 17 3/4 inches
Box: 25 5/8 × 18 × 2 3/4 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Mixed media
82 sheets, each 55 × 45 cm
Box: 65 × 46 × 7 cm
82 sheets, each 21 5/8 × 17 3/4 inches
Box: 25 5/8 × 18 × 2 3/4 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Insicuro Noncurante, 1966-75
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Printed cards, 10 panels, colour, published by Emme Edizioni
25 × 37 × 0.7 cm
9 7/8 × 14 5/8 × 1/4 inches

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980 (detail)

Alighiero Boetti
Da uno a dieci, 1980
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Alighiero Boetti
(Top left): Alighiero Boetti, Alternandosi e dividendosi, 1989, Photo by Marco Anelli. Courtesy the Olnick Spanu Collection; (Lower left): Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1959, Photo by Marco Anelli. Courtesy the Olnick Spanu Collection; (Right): Mel Bochner, Meditation on the Theoremof Pythagoras, 1977, Courtesy the artist.

Mel Bochner, Alighiero Boetti, Lucio Fontana
Magazzino Italian Art, Cold Spring, NY
June 13, 2020–January 11, 2021

Featuring works of art from American Conceptual artist Mel Bochner's own archives in dialogue with works by Alighiero Boetti and Lucio Fontana, this special exhibition at Magazzino offers visitors the opportunity to contemplate a number of formal, procedural, and conceptual “resonances” between the three artists’ work. Curated by Bochner in collaboration with Magazzino, the exhibition explores the use of systems, language, and materials, often with a sense of irony and humor, shared by Arte Povera and Conceptualism. 

Link
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Alighiero Boetti

Arte Povera and 'Multipli' Torino 1970–75
Alighiero Boetti, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Salvo, Giovanni Anselmo, Giuseppe Penone, Giulio Paolini, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Gilberto Zorio
curated by Elena Re
September 18, 2014–April 2, 2015
Berlin

In 1970 Giorgio Persano opened 'Multipli', his first gallery in Torino. 'Multipli' was exceptional for its time. Working with Arte Povera artists and with other Italian artists linked to the conceptual art of the era, 'Multipli' produced a significant body of multiples from 1970 to 1975.

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Press

Size matters: the large and very small art of Alighieri Boetti
The Art Newspaper, review by Gareth Harris, May 11, 2017

Alighiero Boetti: „La Forza del Centro“
The New York Times, article by Roberta Smith, March 7, 2013

Giving Time to Time
Tate ETC, article by Mark Godfrey, Spring 2012

“One of the most important days in my life“
Tate ETC, article by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Spring 2012

Alighiero Boetti: Nuseo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
Artforum International, review by Anna Lovatt, March 2012

Alighiero e Boetti
Frieze, review by Luca Cerizza, September 2009

On the Road to a State of Grace
Tate ETC., essay by Brooks Adams, Summer 2008

Alighiero e Boetti: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
Artforum International, review by Barry Schwabsky, February 2000 

Alighiero E Boetti & Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: Dia Center for the Arts Artforum International, review by Robert Farris Thompson, March 1995

Alighiero E Boetti
Parkett, article by Jean-Christophe Ammann, 1990

Biography

Alighiero Boetti (1940–94). Selected solo exhibitions include Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2011, traveled to Tate Modern and Museum of Modern Art, New York), Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2002), Whitechapel Gallery, London (1999), Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (1997), Galleria Nazionale d’Art Moderna, Rome (1996), La Biennale di Venezia (1995), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1994), Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1994), Kunsthalle Basel (1978) and Centre d’Art Contemporian, Geneva (1977).

 

https://www.archivioalighieroboetti.it
http://www.fondazioneboetti.it

Awards, Grants and Fellowships
1990 Premio Speciale della Giuri, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice
Public Collections
Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin
David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain (FRAC) Bourgogne, Dijon
Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires
Fundació Suñol, Barcelona
Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza
GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
Goetz Collection, Munich
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Kunstmuseum Lucerne
Migros Museum, Zurich
Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Palazzo Grassi, Venice
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent
Tel Aviv Museum of Art