Artist Search
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z 

 Alighiero E. Boetti  (1940 - 1994)

About: Alighiero E. Boetti


Examples of his work



Exhibits - current  

Discussion board

Send me updates


Signature Examples*

Buy and Sell: Alighiero E. Boetti
  For sale ads

Auction results*

  Wanted ads

Auctions upcoming for him*

  Dealers Place a classified ad  
Lived/Active: Italy      Known for: embroidered maps, conceptual mixed-media, found objects

Login for full access
View AskART Services

*may require subscription

Available for Alighiero E. Boetti:

Biographical information (Alighiero Boetti)


Auction records - upcoming / past (Alighiero Boetti)

new entry!

Signature Examples* (Alighiero Boetti)


Discussion board entries (Alighiero Boetti)


Image examples of works (Alighiero Boetti)


Please send me Alert Updates for Alighiero E. Boetti (free)
What is an alert list?

Ad Code: 1
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Colonna (Column)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Alighiero Boetti (also known as Alighiero e Boetti; December 16, 1940 - February 24, 1994) was an Italian conceptual artist, considered to be a member of the art movement Arte Povera. He is most famous for a series of embroidered maps of the world, Mappa, created between 1971 and his death in 1994.  Boetti's work was typified by his notion of 'twinning', leading him to add 'e' (and) between his names, 'stimulating a dialectic exchange between these two selves'.

Alighiero Fabrizio Boetti was born in Turin, to Corrado Boetti, a lawyer, and Adelina Marchisio, a violinist. Boetti abandoned his studies at the business school of the University of Turin to work as an artist. Already in his early years, he had profound and wide-ranging theoretical interests and studied works on such diverse topics as philosophy, alchemy and esoterics. Among his the preferred authors of his youth were the German writer Hermann Hesse and the Swiss-German painter and Bauhaus teacher Paul Klee. Boetti also had a continuing interest in mathematics and music.

At seventeen, Boetti discovered the works of the German painter Wols and the cut canvases of Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana. Boetti's own works of his late teen years, however, are oil paintings somewhat reminiscent of the Russian painter Nicolas de Staël.  At age twenty, Boetti moved to Paris to study engraving. In 1962, while in France he met Annemarie Sauzeau, whom he was to marry in 1964 and with whom he had two children, Matteo (1967) and Agata (1972). From 1974 to 1976, he travelled to Guatemala, Ethiopia, Sudan. In 1975 he went back to New York.

Active as an artist from the early 1960s to his premature death in 1994, Boetti developed a significant body of diverse works that were often both poetic and pleasing to the eye while at the same time steeped in his diverse theoretical interests and influenced by his extensive travels.

Boetti was passionate about non-western cultures, particularly of central and southern Asia, and travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times in the 1970s and 1980s, although Afghanistan became inaccessible to him following the Soviet invasion in 1979.

He died in Rome in 1994 at the age of 53.

From 1963 to 1965, Boetti began to create works out of then unusual materials such as plaster, masonite, plexiglass, light fixtures and other industrial materials. His first solo show was in 1967, at the Turin gallery of Christian Stein. Later that year participated in an exhibition at Galleria La Bertesca in the Italian city of Genoa, with a group of other Italian artists that referred to their works as Arte Povera, or poor art, a term subsequently widely propagated by Italian art critic Germano Celant.

Boetti continued to work with a wide array of materials, tools, and techniques, including ball pens (biro) and even the postal system. Some of Boetti's artistic strategies are considered typical for Arte Povera, namely the use the most modest of materials and techniques, to take art off its pedestal of attributed "dignity". Boetti also took a keen interest in the relationship between chance and order, in various systems of classification (grids, maps, etc.), and non-Western traditions and cultural practices, influenced by his Afghanistan and Pakistan travels.

An example of his Arte Povera work is Yearly Lamp (1966), a light bulb in a wooden box, which randomly switches itself on for eleven seconds each year.  This work focuses both on the transformative powers of energy, and on the possibilities and limitations of chance - the likelihood of a viewer being present at the moment of illumination is remote. In 1967, Boetti produced the piece Manifesto, a poster listing the names of artists that make up Boetti's creative background.

In the late 1969s, Boetti also made monochrome paintings in which he sprayed these paints on metal or masonite supports, recording the numbers and fanciful names of the colours in cork letters. Different thematic groups emerged as Boetti combined their names with other names, race track names for instance (Oro Longchamp and Verde Ascot) or distant place names (Rosso Palermo and Beige Sahara).

In 1969, he returned to the two-dimensionality of paper with Cimento dell'armonia e dell'invenzione and with the Lavori postali series, based on the scanning of time and on the laws of mathematical permutation. By using an existing system (the post office), Boetti incorporated the element of chance in his work. One of his first postal pieces, Untitled (Victoria Boogie Woogie), 1972, is made up of 42 framed postal collages, each containing 120 self-addressed, stamped envelopes of seven stamps per envelope. The letters were all mailed by the artist from different cities to himself in Turin. The number 5040, or (120 x 42 panels), or (7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1), was the number of permutations that could be derived from a sequencing of the seven Italian stamps, totaling 200 lire of postage.

Boetti disassociated himself from the Arte Povera movement in 1972 and moved to Rome, without, however, completely abandoning some of its democratic, anti-elitist, strategies. In 1973, he renamed himself as a dual persona Alighiero e Boetti ("Alighiero and Boetti") reflecting the opposing factors presented in his work: the individual and society, error and perfection, order and disorder. Boetti often conceived of an idea for a work of art but left its design and execution to others, recruiting other people to carry out his concepts.

Alread in his double-portrait I Gemelli begun in 1968 and published as a postcard, Boetti had altered photographs so that he appeared to be holding the hand of his identical twin. Boetti thus often collaborated with other people, both artists and non-artists, giving them significant freedom in their contributions to his works. For instance, one of the better known types of his works consists of colored letters embroidered in grids ("arazzi", meaning wall hangings or tapestries) on canvases of varying sizes, the letters upon closer inspection reading as short phrases in Italian, for instance Ordine e Disordine ("Order and Disorder" or: "Order is Disorder") or Fuso Ma Non Confuso ("Mixed but not mixed up"), or similar truisms and wordplays. To create these pictures, Boetti worked with artisan embroiderers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to whom he gave his designs but increasingly handed over the process of selecting and combining the colors and thus deciding the final look of the work.

Similarly, in the lavori biro (ball pen paintings), he would invite friends and acquaintances, to fill large colored sections of the work by ball pen, typically alternating between a man and a woman. Boetti made his first ballpoint ink drawings in 1972-73 and continued through the late 1980s.  Many of the works in this series contain puzzles, puns and linguistic codes, wherein letters of the alphabet run horizontally or vertically along the margin of the sheet. I sei sensi (The Six Senses), 1973, is part of a series of drawings done in code. An alphabet is laid out on the left side of the paper, forming an index. Commas, laid out horizontally, correspond to each letter of the alphabet. The "meaning" of the piece may be read by following the progressively arranged commas in relation to the letters. In the case of I sei sensi, Boetti has spelled out in Italian the five senses—vedere (to see), gustare (to taste), toccare (to touch), dire (to hear), odarare (to smell)—and one added by the artist: pensare (to think).

His most ambitious project is a large embroidered piece titled Classificazione dei mille fiumi piu lunghi del mondo (Classification of the thousand longest rivers in the world (1977). In characteristically blocky letters, this work spells the names of the world's 1,000 longest rivers in descending order of length.  It is based on a list that required more than seven years of research by Boetti and his first wife, Anne Marie Sauzeau, an art critic, and that is known to many scientists as the Boetti List.

In his Aerei (1977), or "Airplanes" series, the artist leaves as negative space line drawings of modern and historical airplanes.  Originally culled from popular magazine sources, these often mural-size images construct an illusionary space of action and movement.

The interest for the media brought him to collaborate with the daily newspaper Il Manifesto, published in Rome, for which, everyday for a year, he executed a drawing, thus accomplishing his idea of a serial work for the general public. In 1983 he created the series of pencil drawings traced from the covers of popular magazines. The same year he created the large wall mosaic in white ceramic for the external façade of the Art Gallery of the California State University, Northridge, for which he used cardboards with drawings made by the students following his indications.

Perhaps best known is Boetti's series of large embroidered maps of the world, called simply Mappa.  He pondered the idea of the first Mappa during his second voyage to Afghanistan in 1971, resulting in a series of woven world maps entitled Territori Occupati.[14] Between 1971 and 1979 he set up a hotel in Kabul as an art project and created large colourful embroideries, the most famous of these were the Mappa, world maps in which each country features the design of its national flag. The maps delineate the political boundaries of the countries; some nations, such as Israel, are not represented because the Taliban regime of Afghanistan did not then recognize their existence. The border texts contain dates or details relative to the work's production, Boetti's signature and sayings, as well as excerpts from Sufi poetry.

Embroidered by artisans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the maps were the result of a collaborative process leaving the design to the geopolitical realities of the time, and the choice of colours to the artisans responsible for the embroidery. The embroidery of each map normally took one to two years and, in some cases, much longer due to external events. The invasion of Afghanistan by Russian troops in 1979 shifted production from Kabul to Peshawar in Pakistan, where the group of Afghan women had taken refuge. It also halted production completely until 1982, with only a few maps being made between 1982-1985.

"For me the work of the embroidered Mappa is the maximum of beauty. For that work I did nothing, chose nothing, in the sense that: the world is made as it is, not as I designed it, the flags are those that exist, and I did not design them; in short I did absolutely nothing; when the basic idea, the concept, emerges everything else requires no choosing." Alighiero e Boetti, 1974

A chief example of this series, Mappa del Mondo, 1989 ("Map of the World, 1989"), is on view in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (see Key Works).

Having shown in Milan and Turin, Boetti was invited by Harald Szeemann to participate in the seminal exhibition "Live in your Head. When Attitudes become Forms" in 1969. Boetti had his first US solo exhibition in New York at John Weber Gallery in 1973.  In 1978, he held an anthological exhibition curated by Jean Christophe Ammann at the Kunsthalle Basel that featured historical works alongside more recent ones. He continued to show throughout Italy and the United States until his premature death. He was the subject of a retrospective in 1992 that traveled to Bonn and Münster, Germany, and Lucerne, Switzerland. He has been honored post-humously with several large-scale exhibitions, most notably at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome (1996); the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Vienna in 1997; the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main in 1998; Whitechapel Gallery, London (1999); and Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz.[19] The artist took part in Documentas 5 (1972) and 7 (1982) and the Venice Biennale (1978, 1980, 1986, 1990, 1995). In 2001, the Venice Pavillon was completely dedicated to Alighiero e Boetti's work.

Select exhibitions
    •    Galleria Christian Stein, Turin, Italy, 1967
    •    Arte Povera, Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa, 1967 (group exhibition)
    •    Shaman Showman, Galleria De Nieubourg, Milan, Italy, 1969
    •    When Attitude Becomes Form, curated by Harald Szeemann, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, 1969 (group exhibition)
    •    Io che prendo il sole a Torino il 24-2-1969, Galleria Sperone, Turin, Italy, 1969.
    •    John Weber Gallery, New York, 1973
    •    Mettere al mondo il mondo, Sperone-Fischer Gallery, Rome, Italy, 1973
    •    Kunstmuseum Lucerne, Switzerland, 1975.
    •    Kunsthalle Basel, curated by Jean-Christophe Amman, Basel, Switzerland, 1978
    •    Art Agency Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, 1980.
    •    44th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 1990.
    •    Synchronizitaet als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhaenge, Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany; Westfalischer Kunstverein, Munster, Germany; Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland, 1992-1993
    •    Alternando da 1 a 100 e viceversa, Centre National d'Art Contemporain de Grenoble, Grenoble, France, 1993
    •    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, 1994
    •    P.S.1 Museum, Long Island City, New York, 1994.
    •    Alighiero e Boetti, part of the project, Origin and Destination, Societe des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, 1994
    •    Alighiero Boetti, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; Musee d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France; Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria, 1996-97
    •    Alighiero Boetti: Mettere al mondo il mondo ("Bringing the World into the World") - Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and Galerie Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst, Germany, 1998
    •    Boetti; the maverick spirit of Arte Povera Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1999
    •    Zero to Infinity, Arte Povera 1962-1972 - Tate Modern, London,' Walker Center for the Arts, Minneapolis, MI, 2001-2002
    •    When 1 is 2: The Art of Alighiero e Boetti - Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, 2002
    •    Quasi Tutto, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy, 2004.
    •    In 2008, Simon Lee Gallery in London exhibited a group of Alighiero Boetti works.
    •    Mappa del Mondo, 1989 ("Map of the World, 1989"), Afghan embroidery on fabric, Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
    •    Tutto ("Everything"), 1993, Afghan embroidery on fabric, collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt am Main, Germany .

    •    La Tartaruga Gallery (ed.), Il teatro delle mostre (Rome, Lerici editore, 1968, in Italian)
    •    Alberto Boatto, Alighiero & Boetti (Ravenna, Essegi Ed., 1984, in Italian)
    •    Rolf Lauter, Alighiero e Boetti: Mettere il mondo al mondo (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 1988, in German, catalogue for the exhibition Mettere al mondo il mondo)
    •    Germano Celant, Umberto Allemandi, et al., Arte povera (Turin, 1989, in Italian)
    •    Collaboration Parkett No. 24 (art magazine, Parkett Verlag Zurich, Switzerland, 1990, in German and English)
    •    Annelie Pohlen, Alighiero e Boetti - 1965 bis 1991 (Bonner Kunstverein, 1992, in German)
    •    Jean-Christophe Ammann, M. T. Roberto, A. Sauzeau (eds.), Alighiero e Boetti - 1965-1994 (Milan, Edizioni Mazzotta, 1996, in Italian).
    •    Germano Celant, Alighiero Boetti, (Milan, Skira, 2001, published in connection with the exhibition Alighiero Boetti. Niente da vedere niente da nascondere at the 49th Venice Biennale, 2001)
    •    Paola Morsiani and Barry Schwabsky (eds.), When 1 is 2: The Art of Alighiero e Boetti (Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum, 2002)
    •    Hans Ulrich Obrist, Interviews Volume I (Milan, Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery/Charta, 2003)
    •    Maura Picciau, Giorgio Maffei (eds.), Alighiero Boetti "Tutto libro" (Edizoni SACS, 2004, in Italian)
    •    Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Corrado Levi (eds.), Alighiero Boetti - Quasi tutto (Milan, Silvana Editoriale, 2004, in Italian)
    •    Annemarie Sauzeau, Luca Sassella (eds.), Shaman showman Alighiero e Boetti (Rome, 2006, in Italian)


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in Turin, Italy in 1940, he lived and worked in Rome, where he died on April 24, 1994.

His work has been exhibited widely since 1967, across Europe as well as in the United States.

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

"Besprechungsvortrag," Aktionsraum 1, Munich
Art & Project, Amsterdam
Kunstmuseum, Lucerne
Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin
Kunstmuseum Luzern
Centre d'art contemporain, Geneva
Kunsthalle Basel, curated by Jean-Christophe Amman
Studio D'Arte TxT, Rimini
Boetti Retrospective, Pinacoteca Communale Loggetta Lombardesca, Ravenna
Facolta 'Di Architettura, Rome
Pinacoteca di Ravenna-Antologica, Ravenna
Pinacoteca comunale di Ravenna (retrospective exh.), Ravenna
Incontri Internazionali D'Art, Rome
"Insicurononcurante," Noveau Musee, Lyon
 Stedelijk Van Abben Museum Antologica, Eindhoven, Belgium
"XLIV Biennale di Venezia," Venice
 Museo Casabianca, Malo
"Synchronizitat als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhange," Kunstverein, Bonn; Westfalischer Kunstverein, Munster; Kunstmuseum, Lucerne.
"Alternating 1 to 100 and Vice Versa," Centre National d'Art Contemporain de Grenoble,  Grenoble, France
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; P.S.1 Museum, Long Island City, New York
"Alighiero e Boetti," taking place within the project, "Origin and Destination,"
 Societe des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels
Musee d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna
"Alighiero Boetti: Mettere al mondo il mondo," Museums für Moderne Kunst, and Galerie Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst, Frankfurt am Main,
"Alighiero e Boetti: 'Simmetria Asimmetria' ('Biro' Works from the 70's and 80's)," Sperone Westwater, New York
 "Alighiero e Boetti," The Arts Club of Chicago
Alighiero e Boetti, "Quasi Tutto (Almost Everything)," Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy; Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires
"Alighiero e Boetti," Caratsch dePury & Luxembourg, Zurich

Selected Group Exhibitions:

"Il mondo delle torri," Palazzo Reale, Milan
"L'Arte Povera," Kunstverein, Munich
"Reperti," Museo Nacional de Beles Artes, Rio de Janeiro
"Mapping," The Museum of Modern Art, New York
"Worlds Envisioned," Dia Center For The Arts, New York,  1
1994- 8 June 1995,
American Center, Paris, "The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943 - 1968," Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
"Terrae Motus Terrae Motus," Palazzo Reale, Caserta, Italy, December
 Terrae Motus Terrae Motus," Palazzo Reale, Caserta, Italy
"Tradition & Innovation: Italian Art since 1945," National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea
"Tenth Biennale of Sidney," Sidney, Australia
"Arte Italiana, 1945-1995: il visibile e l'invisibile," Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, 14 November-15 January; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Yonago City Museum of Art, Tottori; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
 "Arte Italiana: Ultimi quarant'anni, Pittura iconica," Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Bologna, Italy
"Arte Povera: Arbeiten und Dokumente aus der Sammlung Goetz, 1958 bis heute," Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, June-September; Kunsthalle Nürnberg, October-December; Kölnischer Kunstverein, 13 February-26 April; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Palais Lichtenstein, Vienna, 19 June-30 August; Konsthalle Göteborg, Sweden, September-October; Sammlung Goetz, Munich (catalogue)
"Szenenwechsel XIII/Change of Scene XIII," Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt
  "Terra Incognita, Five Visionary Worlds: Alighiero e Boetti, Vija Celmins, Neil
 Jenney, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Hiroshi Sugimoto," Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen,
 "Alighiero Boetti, Nicola de Maria, Mimmo Paladino," Galleria Cardi, Milan
"Unfinished History," Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
"Unfinished History," Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
"Ars Aevi,"Exhibition of the Collection. Museum of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo. opening 25 June.
"Arte Povera," Bornholms Kunstmuseum, Helligdommen, Denmark
"World Views: Maps & Art", Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis
 "World Views: Maps and Art," Weisman Art Museum
"USF Collects," University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum
"Le Temps, vite," Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Palais des Expositions, Rome; Centre de Culture Contemporaine, Barcelona.
La Biennale di Venezia, Italian Pavillion
"À contretemps," curated by Frac Picardie, Fonds règional d'art contemporain de Picardie, Paris
"Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera," Tate Modern
 "Toward Uncertainty,"  David Winton Bell Gallery, List Art Center, Brown University, Providence
"Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera," MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles
"Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970," Tate Modern, London, 1 June - 18 September 2005
"Contemporary Masterworks: Saint Louis Collects," Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, 7 April - 11 June 2006.

from the internet

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
  go to top home | site map | site terms | AskART services & subscriptions | contact | about us
  copyright © 2000-2015 AskART all rights reserved ® AskART and Artists' Bluebook are registered trademarks

  A |  B |  C |  D-E |  F-G |  H |  I-K |  L |  M |  N-P |  Q-R |  S |  T-V |  W-Z  
  art appraisals, art for sale, auction records