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


each: signed and dated 'Boetti 66' (on the reverse)
(i) signed, inscribed and dated 'Certifico che questa opera sei panelli e' autentica. alighiero e boetti 1975.' (on the reverse)
camouflage fabric laid on wood, in six parts
each: 8 ¼ x 11 5/8in. (21 x 29.7cm.)
overall: 25 x 23 3/8in. (63.5 x 59.4cm.)
Executed in 1966
Studio Marconi, Milan.
Private Collection, Europe.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
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. Cancellation under the EU Consumer Rights Directive may apply to this lot. Please see here for further information. 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. 9834 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
Sale room notice
Please note that the correct title is Mimetico and not as stated in the printed catalogue. Please note that this work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 9834, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

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Lot Essay

A brilliant and deceptively complex statement, Alighiero Boetti’s America (1966) blurs the lines between art and life, utility and beauty, and mimicry and invention. The work consists of six segments of found fabric, mounted in a three-by-two grid: featuring flowing organic shapes and a green-yellow-brown palette, it is the Italian military-grade camouflage known as Telo Mimetico M29, originally designed in 1929 for shelter-tents and subsequently adopted for troop uniforms during the Second World War. In America, Boetti appropriates this distinctive, mercurial pattern to create a painterly abstract composition, both subverting the material’s practical use and probing the relationship between image and reality.

1966 was the first year Boetti experimented with the Telo Mimetico M29 material; he would debut a horizontal camouflage ‘painting’ in his inaugural solo show at Galleria Christian Stein, in his home city of Turin, early the following year. The invitation card for the exhibition opening featured small snippets of the commonplace materials the artist had made use of in the works on show, including Perspex, PVC tubing and electrical wire, as well as the military fabric. Each element was linked to the factory production of northern Italy, which had industrialised rapidly in the post-war period.

Boetti’s use of pre-fabricated materials aligned him with Arte Povera, a loose movement whose name came from Germano Celant’s manifesto ‘Arte Povera: notes for a guerrilla war’, published in Flash Art in 1967. The military edge of works like America chimes with Celant’s combative subheading. Much as other Arte Povera artists abandoned traditional media in favour of the stuff of everyday life, Boetti confronted viewers with part of the real world, smuggled into the art gallery in literal and conceptual camouflage. This approach also had much in common with American Pop art—an association Boetti plays up in the present work’s title. Italy and the United States alike saw great socio-political upheaval in the late sixties, including workers’ strikes, rising consumerism and protests against the Vietnam War. Pop and Arte Povera tackled this new world head-on. ‘I don’t want to waste time finding the art object’, Boetti said in 1968. ‘These things are suggestions, a mental method to help you see reality and life when we are all so conditioned and alienated that we cannot see anything anymore’ (A. Boetti, radio interview at Amalfi, ‘Zoom-settimanale di attivita culturale’, Rome: RAI, 7 November 1968, fifth segment).

America is in some ways a Duchampian found object: a thing taken from the world of use and presented as art. Unlike Duchamp’s urinal or bicycle wheel, however, the fabric’s original function is already illusory by design, as it conceals the user by visually mimicking the colours and patterns of the natural world. In the broadest mimetic sense, the Telo Mimetico is itself a mass-produced artwork. Boetti introduces yet further camouflage in the fabric’s flat, gridded presentation, which primes us to read the printed shapes as an expressive abstract canvas. Mirroring the epistemological confusion of Jasper Johns’ painted flags and targets, the representation and the real are dizzyingly entangled. There are myriad layers of disguise at play in America. The work at once complicates the readymade, parodies the easel picture and alters our sense of reality, epitomising Boetti’s unique blend of playful humour and piercing conceptual critique.

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