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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Alighiero Boetti
ADDIZIONE
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,700,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 2,288,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
19

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Alighiero Boetti
ADDIZIONE
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,700,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 2,288,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

In Context Italian Art

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London

Alighiero Boetti
1940 - 1994
ADDIZIONE
signed and dated Kabul - Afghanistan 1982 on the overlap
embroidered tapestry
242 by 248.2 cm. 95 1/4 by 97 3/4 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1987 

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Hadrien Thomas, Alighiero Boetti, March – April 1990, n.p., illustrated

Paris, Tornabuoni Art, Alighiero Boetti, March – June 2010, p. 195, illustrated

Literature

Carolyne Christov-Bakargiev, Flash Art, A. XX, Summer 1987, p. 33, no. 140, illustrated

Giovanni Battista Salerno, 'Alighiero Boetti: Arte della coppia e misteri della produzione', Flash Art, February 2011, illustrated in colour, online

Jean-Christophe Ammann, Alighiero Boetti, Catalogo generale, Vol. III/1, Milan 2015, p. 94, no. 1306, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Monumental in scale, vibrant in design and nuanced in implication, Addizione deftly engages with the major facets of Alighiero Boetti’s fêted oeuvre. Through a myriad of multi-coloured embroidered letters Boetti explores etymological and mathematical structures and the polarity between order and disorder. One of only four pairs correlatively entitled Addizione and Sottrazione, of which only three are in colour; the present work is supremely rare. These sets of embroideries all incorporate mathematical problems that always give, as a result, the execution year of the work. For example, the present work includes a series of additions, spelt out vertically from top to bottom,  (ie. 1901 + 81, 1931 + 51 etc.),  all with the result 1982, while in its sister painting, Sottrazione, the same result is given by subtractions (ie. 2000 - 18, 2600 - 618, etc.).

Ordine e disordine – order and disorder – were the central tenets of Boetti’s practice. He believed that the tension between human order and natural chaos characterised humanity’s attempts to formulate their own existence; that man was incapable of comprehending the unfathomable power of the universe without imposing arbitrary schemes and systems upon it. While the title of the present work is all about numbers, its appearance is dominated by letters. The verbal lattice was a prominent mode of depiction that Boetti used in his arazzi series and a key method of toying with the dualism of ordine e disordine. At first glance, it seems like a disordered jumble of letters. However, after prolonged examination, words emerge from the chaos and we can identify some order from the disorder. The emphases of this is best summed up by Boetti himself: “I have done a lot of work on the concept of order and disorder: disordering order or putting order into certain kinds of disorder, or again presenting a visual disorder that was actually the representation of a mental order. It’s just a question of knowing the rules of the game. Someone who doesn’t know them will never see the order that reigns in things. It’s like looking at a starry sky. Someone who does not know the order of the stars will see only confusion, whereas an astronomer will have a very clear vision of things” (Alighiero Boetti cited in: Exh. Cat., London, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Alighiero Boetti: Un Pozzo senza fine, 2006, p. 11).

That the artist should choose to devote a series of works to the most basic and elemental mathematically device, namely addition and subtraction, is entirely in keeping the best of his facture. Boetti revered mathematics for the way it can be used to schematise and comprehend everything from geometric trigonometry to musical harmony – in other words, the way mathematical theorems and structures imposed order on the disorder of nature. To this end, we might observe the prominent use of the grid structure in the present work, which undoubtedly makes reference to Pythagorean magic squares. These consist of a grid of numbers arranged in such a fashion that the figures in each vertical, horizontal, and diagonal row add up to the same value. Herein, Boetti pays allegiance to the original purveyor of the calculative system, and makes reference to the tension between human order and natural chaos, which he believed characterised the entirety of existence.

A monumental celebration of the ubiquity and global uniformity of mathematical structure, Addizione is the very pinnacle of Boetti’s oeuvre. Through its vibrant medley of visual signifiers and clear conceptual expression it embodies the strength and potency of Boetti’s unique artistic voice.

In Context Italian Art

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