Alighiero Boetti (Torino, 1940 - Roma, 1994) was an Italian artist. He was self taught, cultivating numerous interests that absorbed him over the course of his life: from music to mathematics, philosophy and esotericism. Germano Celant included him in the first Arte Povera exhibition at La Bertesca, Genoa, in September 1967. In the first years of his career, he made ‘poor’ sculptures, using industrial mterials like Eternit, iron, wood and enamel paint. In 1971 he travelled to Afghanistan and launched his famous project Maps, a series of embroideries that represent the political world map, with each territory embroidered with the colours and symbols of each country’s flag. The maps document the changes made over the yeas to national borders. Embroidered by a group of Afghan women, the maps represented for Boetti an opportunity to comment on the delegation of an artist’s manual work. In 1972, his art undergoes a conceptual change: he begins signing his work ‘Alighiero and Boetti’. The ‘and’ between his name and surname becomes a manifesto of the dialectic exchange between his two halves: the man and the artist. Boetti is fascinated by the conceptual systems used by humanity to organise knowledge and quantify unquantifiable phenomena. Many of his works, made with wide-ranging materials (pen on paper applied to canvas, postcards, stamps, materials) follow precise ‘rules of the games’ and often take on the form of strenuous exercises, which involve the repetition of figures and symbols, and are based on musical and mathematical rhythms.
Alighiero Boetti was among the artists included in Harald Szeemann’s seminal exhibition “When attitudes become form” (1969). He has participated six times at the Venice Biennale: his personal room won a prize in 1990 and a posthumous homage was held in 2001. Recent exhibitions dedicated to his work include those at MADRE - Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Naples (2009) and Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, Germany (2008). His works were shown at Punta della Dogana in the exhibition “Prima Materia” (2013-15) and at Palazzo Grassi in “The World Belongs to You” (2011-2012), “Italics” (2006-2007) and “Where are We Going?” (2006).