- Alighiero Boetti
- signed, dated 1988 and variously inscribed on the overlap
- embroidered tapestry
Private Collection, Germany
Galerie Kaess-Weiss, Stuttgart
Christie's, London, 5 February 2003, Lot 22
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above sale)
Christie’s, London, 24 October 2005, Lot 63 (consigned by the above)
Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
London, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Alighiero Boetti: Un pozzo senza fine, January - April 2006, pp. 38-39, no. 3, illustrated in colour
Executed in 1988, Tutto – or Everything – contains a tumult of tessellating logo-like forms embroidered in vibrant colours. Characteristic of Alighiero Boetti’s greater practice, the present tapestry and eponymous series to which it belongs, furthers the artist’s career-long interest in challenging contradictory dualities: that of chaos and order, infinity and boundary, and multiplicity and simplicity. At first appearing as a chaotic flux of contrasting colours and forms, close inspection of the intricate shapes that comprise Tutto reveals an eclectic accumulation of elements and symbols – such as aeroplanes, flowers, musical instruments, animals and shoes – organised into a cohesive whole. Although there is no immediately discernible centre to the work, the tapestry appears as a single harmonic entity. As Boetti contended: “in everything there is perfect order, even if it is realised in a disorderly manner” (Alighiero Boetti cited in: Exh. Cat., London, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Alighiero Boetti: Un pozzo senza fine, 2006, p. 15).
Boetti began utilising the craft of embroidery in 1970 with his series of now iconic Mappe – geopolitical maps of the world embroidered with national flags according to shifting political boundaries. Following these works, embroidery became the central medium for Boetti’s art. First created in Kabul by local craftspeople and then in Peshawar in Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Boetti’s embroideries were produced using only loose instructions from the artist’s studio. Boetti favoured this mediated means of production as it further removed the hand of the artist, instead privileging the potential of chance intervention and outcome. In 1982 Boetti created the first large scale Tutti. The formal creation of the Tutto tapestries was a slow and arduous process: using encyclopaedias and magazines Boetti collected thousands of images that were cut-out and used as stencils. The resulting mosaic of pencil-outlined forms on raw canvas was then sent for embroidery by the craftswomen in “as many colours as they had threads” (Mark Godfrey, ‘Giving Time to Time’, Tate Etc., Issue 24, Spring 2012, online).
Counting among some of his final works, the Tutto arguably represents a pictorial culmination of Boetti’s artistic career as well as a microcosm of the world in symbolic form. As Dr Rolf Lauter suggests, “with his Tutti, Boetti has created a comprehensive panorama of natural, cultural and civilizatory motifs that cannot be deciphered in their totality, just as we cannot fully grasp the world [...] The world is juxtaposed here to a mirror section of it, designed to ever again make us aware of the wealth of things that surround us in everyday life” (Rolf Lauter cited in: ibid., p. 29). The pulsating field of bold colour is contained within a rectangular frame, giving the illusion that it has been cropped from a larger collection of motifs. This harmonious union of smaller elements to form a greater whole informed Boetti’s philosophical approach to art making and his perception of the world. As he once remarked “one of the most obvious mistakes of our culture is the divisions it makes in the oneness and wholeness of the world with rigid classification […] It's a mental category, a separation, which I feel obscures and veils all possibility of understanding things […] We then need to perceive this oneness in things, instead of always dividing them” (Alighiero Boetti cited in: Exh. Cat., Naples, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Alighiero e Boetti: Bringing the World into Art 1993-1962, 1988, p. 209). The present work visually bombards the spectator in its exploration of the relationship between perpetual flux and cohesive unity. A kaleidoscopic sea of autonomous objects and colours that float between figurative illusion and abstract patternation, Tutto is a clear expression of the central guiding principle of Boetti's art: ordine e disordine.