• Post-War and Contemporary Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 1106

    Post-War and Contemporary Art (Evening Auction)

    13 February 2013, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994)

    Tutto

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994)
    Tutto
    signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'alighiero boetti TUTTO PESHAWAR 88-89' (on the overlap)
    embroidery on linen
    36¼ x 52in. (92 x 132cm.)
    Executed 1988-1989


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    This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 3257.



    'Tutto emerges from a vision of the world in which everything meets. It also presents a notion of 'fullness', understood as the ability to encompass everything, as the desire to dissolve one's own self (Perdita d'identitá) in the indistinct flow of life and its countless fragments' (A. Soldaini, quoted in Alighiero e Boetti, exh. cat., London, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1999, p. 23).


    'One of the most obvious mistakes of our culture is the divisions it makes in the oneness and wholeness of the world with rigid classifications: like the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdom and so on. It's a mental category, a separation, which I feel obscures and veils all possibility of understanding things. In its pretence to explain, it only serves to nullify a broad scope of understanding things... We then need to perceive this oneness in things, instead of always dividing them into categories and classifications, and above all antitheses of the good/bad, black/white kind' (A. Boetti, quoted in 'Today to Tomorrow,' 1988, Alighiero e Boetti: Bringing the World into Art 1993-1962, exh. cat., MADRE, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, 2009, p. 209).



    A cacophony of colour and form, Alighiero Boetti's Tutto is a tapestry of modern life. Like a brightly woven jigsaw puzzle, the silhouettes of countless quotidian objects boldly articulate themselves in the chromatic weave. Dancing across the surface of Tutto, the figures of helicopters, guitars, camels and dancing figures create a dazzling spectacle of colour and rhythm in the mosaic-like tapestry. The unusual inclusion of the letters ALT, ESI, K and G hinting at Boetti's interest in hidden codes encrypted deep within his elaborate tapestries. A vibrant example from one of Boetti's most celebrated series, further works from the Tutto series are housed in major museum collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt and were recently highlighted in the artist's esteemed international retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Tate Modern in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012.

    Recalling Boetti's earliest conceptual principles of ordine e disordine, the origins of the Tutto grew organically from Boetti's earlier work Pack from 1967. Grounded by the Arte Povera emphasis on materials, Pack consisted of a pail of cement, which the artist allowed to dry and crack, resulting in independent, irregular segments, which still maintained a sense of cohesive unity when observed as a whole. In Tutto, this overarching holistic harmony remains; the independent, arbitrarily chosen objects merge into a pluralist 'All', the coloured fragments sharing one rhythmic heart beat.

    Executed between 1988-1989, this work forms part of the Tutto series which continued until the very last years of Boetti's life. After years of operating out of the One Hotel in Kabul, which the artist founded in 1971, it was in 1989 that Boetti began to commission his embroideries to be completed by immigrant Afghan families in Peshawar (Pakistan). Explaining how this service was first conceived in Afghanistan, the artist recalled: 'I asked my assistants to draw everything, every possible shape, abstract or figurative, and to amalgamate them until the paper sheet was saturated. Then I took the drawing to Afghanistan to get it embroidered with 90 kinds of different coloured threads, provided that there was an equal quantity of each of them. The different colours of each shape is chosen by the women. In order to avoid establishing any hierarchy among them, I use them all. Actually, my concern is to avoid to make choices according to my taste and to invent systems that they will then choose on my behalf' (A. Boetti, quoted in A. Zevi, Alighiero e Boetti: Scrivere, Ricamare, Disegnare, Corriere della Sera, 19 January 1992).

    Combining his own outlook on life with the mythical Sufi traditions of Islam that were increasingly attracting his attention, the harmonious union of the individual part and whole in Tutto allows one to glimpse some sense of the greater whole of existence. This underlying unifying principle was critical for Boetti, not only for his artistic practice but also as a philosophical lens in which to perceive 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 classifications: like the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdom and so on. It's a mental category, a separation, which I feel obscures and veils all possibility of understanding things. In its pretence to explain, it only serves to nullify a broad scope of understanding things... We then need to perceive this oneness in things, instead of always dividing them into categories and classifications, and above all antitheses of the good/bad, black/white kind' (A. Boetti, quoted in 'Today to Tomorrow,' 1988, Alighiero e Boetti: Bringing the World into Art 1993-1962, exh. cat., MADRE, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, 2009, p. 209).

    In many ways, these embroidered assemblages represent the rapturous apogee of Boetti's entire oeuvre. As Shirazeh Houshiary so poignantly reflected, 'if you could reach this small, minute, moment of now, it would contain all, from the beginning to the end of time; as if to say that it is the smallest part and yet the largest. Boetti reached the same conclusions; and even if a lifetime is not long enough to fully comprehend, I feel that he died too early. There was so much for him to do, but somehow maybe he saw it at the end of his life. The whole of humanity can be seen as a tiny drop that becomes one with the ocean. Perhaps he saw it as a whole. I feel that he did' (S. Houshiary, quoted in Alighiero e Boetti, exh. cat., Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1999, p. 73).

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Provenance

    Galerie Guy Pieters, Sint-Martens-Latem.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1990.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION


    Exhibited

    Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Alighiero Boetti, 1994.