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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION


signed, inscribed and dated 'alighiero e boetti a TAGUR - AFGHANISTAN 1989' (on the overlap)
embroidery on linen
50 3⁄8 x 91 3⁄8in. (128 x 232cm.)
Executed in 1988-1989
Galleria Tornabuoni, Florence.
Acquired from the above in 1998, and thence by descent to the present owner.
M. Van Leeuw and A. Pontégnie (eds.), Origin and Destination. Alighiero e Boetti, Douglas Huebler, exh. cat., Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels, 1998, p. 76 (illustrated in colour and incorrectly dated '1986').
Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (on long term loan since 1998).
Merano, Merano Arte/Kunst Meran, Children's Corner: Artist Books for Children, 2007, p. 124 (illustrated in colour, pp. 124-125).
Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Percorsi privati. Lo sguardo di un collezionista da Balla a Chen Zhen, 2007, pp. 132 and 170, no. 51 (illustrated in colour, p. 133).
Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Eurasia: Dissolvenze geografiche dellarte, 2008 , p. 42 (illustrated in colour, pp. 42-43).
Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien, 1989: End of History or Beginning of the Future? Notes on the break in epochs, 2009-2010, pp. 90 and 302 (illustrated in colour, pp. 92-93). This exhibition later travelled to Potsdam, Villa Schöningen.
Belgrade, Italian Cultural Institute of Belgrade, Arte Povera. Opere dalle collezioni del Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, 2010, (illustrated in colour on the front cover and p. 43; detail illustrated in colour pp. 18-19). This exhibition later travelled to Sao Paulo, SESC Belhenzino.
Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, La magnifica ossessione, 2012-2014, no. 8 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 63).
Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, La guerra che verrà non è la prima, 2014-2015, p. 404, no. 6 (illustrated in colour, pp. 404-405).
Messina, Museo Interdisciplinare Regionale, Mediterraneo. Luoghi e Miti. Capolavori del Mart, 2016-2017, p. 116 (illustrated in colour, pp. 116-117).
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. Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie’s therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie’s holds such financial interest we identify such lots with the symbol º next to the lot number. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 1120 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
Sale room notice
Please note that this lot which was not marked with a circle and diamond symbol in the printed catalogue is now subject to a minimum price guarantee and has been financed by a third party. Please see the conditions of sale for further information.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Held in the same collection since 1998, and on long-term loan to The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (MART) during that time, Mappa (1988-1989) stems from the long-running series of Mappe (Maps) which stand among Alighiero Boetti’s most iconic creations. These beautiful, hand-embroidered tapestries were produced by Afghan weavers in Kabul, and later in Peshawar, Pakistan, following the artist’s directions. They show the Earth’s landmasses fragmented into various countries, kingdoms and unions, whose flags fill their irregular outlines to create a dazzling mélee of colour, pattern and symbol. More than two metres across, the present Mappa sets the continents adrift in striking pale blue ocean, framed by a multicoloured border. With chequerboard letters, the border reads in Italian Alighiero Boetti / a tempo / in tempo / col tempo / il temporale (‘to time / in time / with time / the real time’), with the date of execution down the right-hand side; below, Persian script reads Work of Alighiero Boetti, in the date one thousand three hundred and sixty, in Afghanistan. / Homeland, oh what a beautiful name you have AfghanistanYour weather is pleasant, your scenery is landscapes. In tandem with his fascination with time, the map embodies Boetti’s dual concept of ordine e disordine (‘order and disorder’). Cartographic fixity dissolves into a profusion of unstable borders, redefined regions and fractured flags, revealing the world as existing in a vibrant state of flux. Indeed, considered together, the Mappe can be seen to highlight the arbitrary nature of these divisions, which alter between tapestries in line with political machinations and shifting power structures around the globe.

Boetti first travelled to Kabul in the spring of 1971. Having visited simply out of curiosity—during the 1970s many westerners visited Afghanistan as part of the ‘hippy trail’, including the artist Sigmar Polke—he fell in love with the country. He found there an escape from the fraught political climate of his native Italy, where he had drifted away from the Arte Povera movement among whom he had risen to acclaim. At the hostel he was staying at, he befriended a waiter, Gholam Dastaghir, who confided in him that he would like to open a hotel. Boetti returned in autumn that year, and together they opened their new establishment, calling it the One Hotel. It swiftly became a creative hub, often frequented by travelling artists and friends of Boetti. In collaboration with local weavers organised by Dastaghir, it was here that the first Mappe were conceived. Boetti would visit twice annually with his family, supervising progress on the Mappe and other projects. After the Soviet invasion of 1979, access became increasingly difficult, and Boetti was forced to draw his designs in Italy to be sent east; many Afghans fled the country during this period, and in 1984, Boetti began working with displaced weavers who had found refuge in Peshawar, Pakistan. Devised by the weavers’ supervisors, the present work’s wistful Persian script reflects a longing for the homeland which they—and Boetti—greatly missed.

Alongside the idiosyncrasies produced by their hand-crafting and their geographical disconnect from Boetti, the weavers’ own creative decisions were central to the collaboration. The artist did not dictate the colours of the oceans, and was delighted when the first finished tapestries arrived with waters of green, yellow, black, grey and purple as well as blue. ‘Their choices of colour from the designs of my colour schemes resulted in the combinations of colour possibilities that were impossible to predict’, he said. ‘The element of surprise is like the disorder invading the formal order of the grid’ (A. Boetti, quoted in Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan, exh. cat. Tate Gallery, London 2012, p. 166). The present work’s Persian script, too, flows freely among the border’s squares. The Mappe express Boetti’s all-encompassing worldview while remaining inseparable from their local context, and are as artisanal as they are conceptual.

The present Mappa is rich in distinctive detail, from the unusually deep reds used in the flags to the ocean’s painterly, variegated cyan, which—with a texture pleasingly reminiscent of ocean waves—visually charts the passage of time: its rhythms reflect the multiple bobbins of silk used across its creation. The border inscription not only plays with the word ‘time’ in Italian, but features both Gregorian and Persian date systems. Temporality is a central theme throughout the Mappe. While each of Boetti’s designs pictured the geopolitical moment of its conception, the intricate tapestries would take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete. By the time they were finished and returned to the artist, their details were thus often out of date. The present example records a snapshot of the world at its commencement in 1988, including countries, borders and flags that were on the brink of change.

The former Soviet Union—whose troops were withdrawing from Afghanistan as the weavers worked—engulfs vast swathes of the tapestry in red. The Yugoslavian flag flies over the Balkans. East Germany still bears the colours of the GDR, which would be relinquished soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. In Africa, the flaming torch of Zaire’s flag blazes in the country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while South Africa holds the old orange, white and blue banner that is today viewed as a symbol of apartheid. From such vivid political details to the joyful freedom of its embroidered surface, Mappa challenges the map as an objective or neutral authority, capturing instead the order and disorder of human life in an international, polyvocal vision. At a time when Afghanistan has once again been plunged into chaos, it is a timely reminder of the instability—and interconnectedness—of a world many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted.

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