Lot 34
  • 34

ALIGHIERO BOETTI | L'energia iniziale

350,000 - 450,000 GBP
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  • Alighiero Boetti
  • L'energia iniziale
  • signed, dated 1989 and variously inscribed on the overlap
  • embroidery on canvas
  • 107.5 by 108 cm. 42 3/8 by 42 1/2 in.


Esso Gallery, New York 
Private Collection, Turin (acquired directly from the above) 
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014


New York, Salvatore Ala Gallery, Alighiero Boetti, November - December 1990


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the blue tonalities are slightly brighter and more vibrant. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals a few unobtrusive thread pulls, one to the G of the text in the centre, another to the top right quadrant, one towards the left centre of the extreme upper edge and another towards he upper centre of the extreme right edge, all of which are in keeping with the artist's working process and choice of materials
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“Boetti told me on that first encounter that in our time the art world would become much more of a polyphony of centres. It would go beyond Western art. He made me understand that globalisation would change the art world forever.”
Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘One of the Most Important Days in My Life: Alighiero Boetti at Tate Modern’, in: Tate Etc., Issue 24, Spring 2012, online. Executed in 1989, the present work is a rare and mesmerising example from Alighiero Boetti's series of L'energia iniziale (Initial Energy). Embroidered in staggered and alternating strands of cerulean blue and white thread, the composition seems to pulsate with rippling energy. Boetti was fascinated by the intangible vibrancy of energy and light, and indeed, with its meditative tranquillity and hypnotic beauty, L’energia iniziale seems charged with a sense of effervescing dynamism. Completed only five years before the artist’s death, the work fits more broadly into Boetti's celebrated body of Arazzi (tapestries). A testament to the extraordinary level of poetic expression that Boetti attained in his artistic maturity, the Arazzi present a magnificent culmination of the artist’s deep-seated philosophical beliefs: Boetti understood the world to be characterised by the forces of ordine e disordine (order and disorder), and that in order to decipher the chaos of the natural world, humanity was forced to schematise and codify it into an organised mode of comprehension. Allied to this belief was his dedication to the notion of twinning or dualism – the idea that every force has a yin-and-yang, an equal and an opposite, and that they act not to subsume each other but rather to exist in harmonious equilibrium.

It was in light of these ideas that the Italian artist famously created the designs for his Arazzi in Rome, but had them woven in the Middle East, either in Afghanistan or, as in the present example, Pakistan. In this way, their split execution was fundamentally based on this balanced duality and entirely imbued with ordine e disordine. Playing with constructs of language in order to further adhere to such notions, the centrepiece of the present composition can be ‘decoded’ when read from top to bottom, as with East Asian calligraphic texts, to form the title of the work. Through its vibrant medley of balanced composition, vivid azure hue, and entrancing conceptual expression, L’energia iniziale beautifully embodies the strength and potency of Boetti’s unique artistic voice.

This work will be accompanied by a photo certificate of authenticity from the Archivio Alighiero Boetti.