Alighiero Boetti: Artist Portrait

Alighiero Boetti

Born 1940. Died 1994.

Works by Alighiero Boetti at Sotheby's

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Alighiero Boetti Biography

Born in Turin, Italy, in 1940, Alighiero Boetti was a Conceptual artist and leading member of the Arte Povera movement. His early interests were as diverse as they were intellectually rigorous; he abandoned his business school studies to pursue a career in art, but he engaged with philosophy, music, mathematics, literature and alchemy throughout his life. As a young artist in the 1960s, he joined Mario and Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Luciano Fabro in forming Arte Povera, a movement that promoted breaking with conventional power structures, corporate mentality and traditional artistic practices.

Like many artists of the Arte Povera group, Boetti turned to a variety of textiles and modes of production that lie outside of the formal fine arts. Using ball point pens, flags, postal stamps, and textiles of different textures, Boetti created series of Mappa, or maps of the world, which chart political, anthropological or cultural identities of regions or countries. He commissioned women at embroidery schools in the Middle East to sew some of his map series, engaging both with the Arte Povera interest in handcraft and artisanship, in addition to collaboration and incorporating voices from the regions he depicted. Some of his works were temporal, wherein lights would randomly turn on for only seconds of a year, perhaps even in empty rooms. He used the postal system, grid structures or arbitrary time frames as a means to explore his deep interested in the role of chance in his artistic production.

Boetti took part in two Documentas and five Venice Biennales, and his works have been exhibited in major galleries and museums in Europe and the United States before his premature death in 1994 as a result of a brain tumor. He has been honored posthumously with seven large scale exhibitions or retrospectives at significant museums including the Whitechapel Gallery, London; the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein; and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome.

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