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Tutto (Everything)

Tutto (Everything)
signed 'alighiero e boetti' (on the overlap)
embroidery on linen
32 ¾ x 51 5⁄8in. (83.3 x 131.2cm.)
Executed in 1988
Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Geneva.
de Pury & Luxembourg Art, Geneva.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000.
Geneva, Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Alighiero e Boetti, 1999 (detail illustrated in colour, p. 33; illustrated in colour, pp. 34-35).
Further Details
This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 7877 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

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Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Executed in 1988, Tutto (Everything) is an entrancing work from Alighiero Boetti’s extraordinary late series of the same name. Standing among the last embroidered works he ever produced, these dazzling tapestries served not only as summations of his artistic practice, but also sought to visualise the ‘everything-ness’ of human experience. From a distance, they confront the viewer as swirling abstract jigsaws of colour and shape; up close, they reveal the intricate detail of their constituent parts. Here we spot a tiger, a swan, a fish, a horse, a map of Italy; we spy a gun, an umbrella, pairs of scissors, a globe, a skull. There are fruits, utensils, musical instruments and body parts. Words—‘print’, ‘bad’, ‘pop’, ‘sex’ and even ‘tutto’ itself—leap out of the texture. As his life drew to a close, Boetti intensified his efforts to capture the complex dialogue between chaos and structure that underpinned human existence. At once random and cohesive, discordant and harmonious, the Tutto works represent the ultimate expressions of this idea, perfectly encapsulating the principles of ordine e disordine (‘order and disorder’) that lay at the core of his art.

The conceptual origins of Tutto can be traced to an early project of 1967 entitled Pack. Designed to resemble pack ice, the work consisted of a bucket half-filled with cement, which dried into cracked and separated segments but which still retained an overall sense of cohesion. The entanglement of flux and unity, it proclaimed, was a fundamentally natural phenomenon. Significantly, Boetti's first Tutto tapestry, created in 1979, was also given the title Pack: he made his first large-scale embroideries under the title Tutto in 1983. To make the tapestries, Boetti worked in collaboration with the same skilled Afghan women who had worked on his Mappe and Arazzi. The artist himself selected the objects from a variety of sources, including textbooks, magazines, newspapers and encyclopaedias, before drawing them in interlocking designs onto linen. After specifying the quantity of coloured thread to be used, he handed the work over to the weavers, who were tasked with deciding upon the exact distribution of hues.

In this way, the Tutto tapestries placed the dialogue between order and disorder at the very heart of their facture. The idea that an artwork could unfold across multiple time zones, and through multiple hands, had long fuelled Boetti’s practice. The broader notion that fragmentation and partition could breed their own internal unity, meanwhile, was central to the teachings of the Sufi mystics and other philosophies he admired. While the pageant of objects, shapes, patterns and colours in Tutto might seem arbitrary at first glance, recalling Jasper Johns’ False Start works, close observation yields a sense of internal organisation and logic. The form of each motif has a determining effect upon its neighbours; the entire composition thus emerges not as a random collage, but as a tightly constructed visual field. From a distance, moreover, the constituent parts relinquish their individual identities, succumbing to broader, abstract rhythms of colour and form. Microcosm and macrocosm are, like the threads of the tapestry, deeply interwoven. For all its clamour, Tutto ultimately exudes a sense of peace: an understanding that the divisions we impose upon the world are fundamentally meaningless, and that they might—one day—melt away in a blaze of colour.

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