The Vernici industriali (Industrial Paints) correspond to a conceptual work realised by Boetti between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Boetti produced several examples of this type of work, each one different, characterised by a broad chromatic range. All, however, shared the same rigorous square format and had the name and code of the colour inscribed at the centre of the work. The colours chosen by Boetti typically corresponded to the chromatic gradations applied at that time to specific types of car or (as in the case of this work) motorbike. Rosso Gilera 60 1232 - Rosso Guzzi 60 1305 is an important and meaningful testimony to these works belonging to the "Industrial paints" series. The example in our collection is a truly rare piece, one of the most valuable we own. In fact the first Rosso Gilera - Rosso Guzzi was realised in 1967, in metal, and measuring cm 100 x 100. The second and only example of this category is ours, also realised on metal in 1971, but slightly smaller in size: cm 70 x 70. In addition, the artist executed two limited editions of Rosso Gilera - Rosso Guzzi: the first in 1971 (cm 25 x 25) and the second in 1984, identical to our example of 1971 (cm 70 x 70, but in a limited edition).
We loved this work at first sight: we immediately perceived that the letters and numbers, situated at the centre of the two metal panels, constituted the image and the title of the work. We were unaware of its rarity, until the Boetti Archive provided us with all the information about it, which I have referred to above.
A work that, in addition to its conceptual value, makes its authority felt on any wall, in any space. The two shades of red attract the attention, then the "reading" that suggests its meaning follows; finally, if the visitor is an art lover, the comment is always the same: "Brilliant Boetti!"
‘Some of the best arte povera moments were hardware shop moments’
(Alghiero Boetti, quoted in Alex Potts, ‘Disencumbered Objects’, October 115 Spring 2008, p. 178)
Rosso Gilera 60 1232 - Rosso Guzzi 60 1305 is the only diptych in an important series of square monochrome paintings that Boetti made in 1967. It is also one of the finest examples of Boetti’s work from the height of his involvement with Arte Povera.
Made in Turin, the home of the Fiat car company, the two square iron panels that comprise this work have been spray-painted in two very slightly different shades of red. Boetti selected his colours from a range created for the painting of cars and motorcycles and chose from this according to the romance or excitement incited by the often poetic names they had been given. In this way ‘Bianco Saratoga’, ‘Oro Longchamps’ or ‘Argento Auteuil’, all titles referring to racetracks and an appropriate theme in choosing a car colour, all became Boetti paintings. In an act of simple mimesis reflective of the open and Minimalist mood of the period, Boetti’s monochrome paintings were square iron panels that comprised solely the colour, its name and industrial code number.
Rosso Gilera 60 1232 - Rosso Guzzi 60 1305 is the sole diptych from this near ready-made series of paintings. Each colour refers to two of Italy’s most famous motorcycle manufacturers, the keen racing rivals Gilera and Guzzi. In the 1950s and early ‘60s Gilera and Guzzi each had their own devoted following of Italian fans and it is this rivalry that Boetti playfully both represents and humorously celebrates in the twinned, diptych form of this work. Here, the intense and noisy history and rivalry between these two great Italian institutions is silently captured through the simplicity and symmetry of these two very similar but slightly differently coloured red rectangular panels.
The inherent mimesis of this work, with each panel openly displaying what it is while also reflecting its near twinned nature in the other, betrays the beginnings of an important new tendency in Boetti’s work and one that would ultimately transcend its Arte Povera beginnings. While the simultaneous symmetry and difference within the two rectangles anticipates the origins of the Ordine e Disordine (Order and Disorder) principle that Boetti explored further in other rectangular work of this period such as his Dama and Quadrati, its infusion of the concept of identity also prompted the more personal integration with his work that Boetti expressed in the twin brass plaques 11 Luglio 2023 - 16 Dicembre 2040, his Gemelli (Twins) of 1968 and perhaps his ultimate mimetic act, the separating of himself into the twin persona of Alighiero e Boetti (Alighiero and Boetti).