Turin, 1940 – Rome, 1994
Alighiero Boetti – or Alighiero e Boetti as he liked to sign his works from 1971 – was born in Turin, Italy. The son of lawyer Corrado Boetti and violinist Adelina Marchisio, he began his career as a self-taught artist, after having briefly studied Business and Economics at the University of Turin.
In 1967, the Christian Stein gallery in Turin offered Boetti his first solo show, within a context marked by the recent birth of Arte Povera. The young artist was subsequently invited to take part in all group exhibitions around this theme, that paved the way for total freedom of artistic expression, and in shows on Conceptual Art such as ‘When Attitudes become Form’ at the Kunsthalle Basel in 1969.
The latter marked Boetti’s detachment from Arte Povera in favour of conceptual experimentation through duplication, symmetry and multiplication. His works then focused on codes of classification and communication, working with numbers, maps and alphabets, playing with a variety of materials and techniques, reminiscent of ancient Asian craftsmanship.
Boetti’s passion for Afghanistan began in the early 1970s with a few trips that later turned into long stays, and in 1971 Boetti and his wife opened the ‘One Hotel’ in Kabul. During this time Boetti began working on the Mappe (Maps), entrusting the realisation of his famous tapestries to Afghan female embroiderers. The colours and shapes of the flags changed according to the world’s geopolitical context at the time of the realisation (1971-1994). Kabul inspired another famous series entitled Frasi messe al quadrato (Squared Sentences). After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (December 1979 – February 1980), the discontinuation of the production of tapestries led him to work with Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan (as from 1986).
A great traveller, Boetti spent long periods in different continents. Countries like Ethiopia, Guatemala and Japan inspired him to create his Lavori postali (Postal Works) with local stamps. Evoking the passing of time, these pieces were based on the mathematical mutation of the stamps and on the unpredictable adventure of the world’s postal services.
The revolutionary aspect of Boetti’s work was the creation of a paradigm within which to act for the people involved in the creative process, thus radically questioning the role of the artist and the impact of chance, sequence, repetition and authorship in the creation of a work of art. His work and attitude have strongly influenced the next generation of artists in Italy and around the world.
© Alighiero Boetti
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Art Paris. Text by Ilaria Bignotti. B/w and colored illustrations, 63 pages, 9,6×6,8 in, French/English, 2020.
Utopia. Italian Art & Design
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Art Paris. Texts by Charles Zana and Flavia Frigeri. B/w and colored illustrations, 72 pages, 6,6×9,6 in, English, 2019.
Alighiero Boetti. Decoding his Universe: Works on Paper (1968-91)
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Art London. B/w and colored illustrations, 86 pages, 7,8×11 in, English, 2019.
Alighiero Boetti. Minimum/Maximum
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Art and Luca Massimo Barbero, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice. B/w and colored illustrations, 240 pages, 9,4×11,8 in, Italian/English, 2017.
Alighiero Boetti. Photocopies
catalogue related to the project “COLOUR=REALITY. B+W=ABSTRACTION (except zebras)”, curated by Tornabuoni Art, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Agata Boetti, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice. B/w and colored illustrations, 352 pages, 9,4×11,8 in, Italian / English, 2017.
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Art London and Laura Cherubini. B/w and colored illustrations, 336 pages, 9,4×11,8 in, Italian/English, 2016.
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Art Paris. Text by Anne Marie Sauzeau. B/w and colored illustrations, 240 pages, 9,4×11,8 in, French/English/Italian, 2010.
Alighiero e Boetti
exhibition catalogue edited by Tornabuoni Arte and Bruno Corà. B/w and colored illustrations, 224 pages, 11,4×12,9 in, Italian/English, 2005.