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PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTOR

Alighiero Boetti
MAPPA
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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.
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.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 881,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
6

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTOR

Alighiero Boetti
MAPPA
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.
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.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 881,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Alighiero Boetti
1940 - 1994
MAPPA

signed and dated Kabul Afghanistan 1984 on the overlap


embroidered tapestry
114 by 167cm.
44 7/8 by 65 3/4 in.
Executed in 1983-84, this work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome under number 2673 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
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Provenance

Private Collection, Venice (acquired directly from the artist)
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Mappa, executed in 1983-84, is an extraordinary example of Alighiero Boetti's celebrated eponymous body of work, which is universally regarded as the culminating achievement of the artist's career. Embroidered with vibrant hues, Mappa is a joyful explosion of colours and shapes, where the rich blue shade of the sea creates the backdrop to a kaleidoscopic ensemble of the various countries' flags manipulated to fit within their borders.

In 1969, Boetti took a printed world map and coloured and patterned the countries with the hues of their respective flags, creating the first Mappa on paper, Planisfero Politico. As the artist has explained: "the world is made the way it is and I have not drawn it; the flags are those that exist anyway...Once the basic idea is there, the concept, then everything else is already chosen" (the artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Alighiero Boetti 1965-1994, 1996, p. 199). Fascinated by classifying alterations in political geography, which he interpreted as a human desire to demarcate the earth, Boetti would go on to expand the concept of Planisfero Politico into his world-renowned series of embroidered Maps. This series would bear witness to every change that affected countries, their borders and their flags and provides an extraordinary account of political geography from 1971 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the historic dissolution of the Soviet Union. As observed by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Boetti's series of Mappe "act as a metaphor for the fluidity of human relationships and communities" (Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Arte Povera, London 1999, p. 85).

The stunning woven and embroidered Mappe, executed first in Afghanistan and then in Pakistan after 1988, illuminate Boetti's perceived separation between conception and execution. For Boetti, the artist was the creative force, generating ideas and conceiving designs, the execution of which he would delegate to others. Rather than indicating technical weakness, in fact, Boetti strongly believed in the plurality of the creative process and always considered suggestions from those who worked with him.

The present Mappa was designed by Alighiero Boetti in 1983 in his studio in Trastevere in Rome and subsequently sent to Kabul, Afghanistan to be embroidered as the artist had been unable to visit the country since the 1979 Soviet invasion. As observed by Annemarie Sauzeau, the text included in the Mappe of 1983 represents the artist's challenge and protest against the military occupation that did not allow him to return to his beloved Kabul (cited in: Jean-Christophe Ammann, Alighiero Boetti, Catalogo Generale, Vol. I, Milan 2009, p. 47). In the present Mappa the mentioned text "Alighiero e Boetti Kabul Afghanistan nell'anno millenovecentoottantatre" is clearly legible along the top and right edge.

In Mappa there is a visual dichotomy between the tectonic changes of Nature that have been formed through the ages and the comparatively transitory boundaries of Mankind: "In the Map, you see Nature but also how people have their dramatic influence, creating states and flags" (Jean Christophe Amman in: Exhibition Catalogue, Turin, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Arte Povera in collection, 2000-01, p. 130). By laying bare the physiognomy of the earth, Boetti interrogates the supposed significance of human organization, or what Dan Fox describes as: "the inherent absurdity of imposing abstract human concepts upon the natural world, as if our efforts might reveal some Platonic essence in the landscape or in the passage of time" (Dan Fox,Alighiero e Boetti, London 2000, pp. 105-06).

Mappa results from Boetti's masterful employment of the universally familiar world map, which, with its highly readable scheme of bright colours, encapsulates his mature approach to these wide-ranging lines of enquiry. The notion of territoriality and the structure of the map is a theme with which many artists have engaged. Enlisted to explain geography, delineate territory and describe one country's relationship with another, maps have been employed for centuries by cartographers and artists alike as propaganda tools and formats for political commentary. Boetti's first embroidered Mappa came ten years after Jasper Johns' Map of 1961. While Jasper Johns depicted colourful American States with undefined borders and stamp-like names, elevating the banal and commonplace to the status of fine art and championed Pop-Art by using ready-mades, Boetti borrowed world maps in order to portray conceptually the evolution of the political scene during the Cold War.

Charged with global political awareness, Mappa is infused with Boetti's natural sense of poetry and spontaneous inclination toward beauty. The present work embodies Boetti's artistic evolution beyond Arte Povera and his fascination with cultural 'otherness', which the artist filters through his conceptual understanding of fate and time. In the artist's own words, "I invent the world as it is, without inventing anything" (the artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Villeurbanne, Le Nouveau Musée, Alighiero e Boetti, 1986, p. 36).

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London