Alighiero Boetti, details of Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, kilim carpet, 1993

Alighiero Boetti, born in Turin, has always been depicted as an eclectic and versatile artist.

Indeed, he wasn’t afraid at all of opening up to new cultures and experimenting new artistic techniques. That’s is the reason why, during the last part of his life, the artist also started to approach to the art of the carpet.

The love for this practice was born during his several trips to Afghanistan, that he visited for the first time in 1971. Here the artist experienced the weaving and embroidering techniques of Afghan women, remaining fascinated by colours and motifs of the traditional embroidery.
Thus, he decided to commission to these embroiderers a series of tapestries and embroideries, that he eventually wanted to use to investigate political and geographical themes.

Then, in 1991 he lands into the world of carpets and decided to make realize in Pakistan, using the traditional technique, 50 kilims. Obviously, instead of using the conventional patterns, Boetti used this carpets as a way to discuss the theme of variation, that had already been faced up in Alternando uno a cento e viceversa, a series of works onto block notes realized in the 70s.

Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, china e matita, 1978
Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, Indian ink and pencil, 1978

Every square-shaped carpet is divided in 100 smaller squares. Then the carpet designers (in this case the students of the French academies of fine arts) can decide how to use and fill these squares. The only instruction that Boetti gave them is the number of the squares to be blackened and the ones that had to be left white.

Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, tappeto kilim, 1993
Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, kilim carpet, 1993

Boetti used the carpet because it allowed him to act as if he was a film director.
He’s always been fascinated by the idea that these textile works were the result of three different people: Boetti himself (who of course is the creator of the main idea), a designer and an embroiderer.
With these artworks, he wanted to put in doubt the artist’s role, questioning the concepts of the seriality and paternity of the work of art.

Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, tappeto kilim, 1993
Alighiero Boetti, Alternando da uno a cento e viceversa, kilim carpet, 1993

The final result is a series of carpets, everyone different from the other, thanks to which the artist investigates the themes of hazard, modularity and the relationships between the two of them.

Mostra Alighiero & Boetti. Mettere al mondo l'arte (1962-1993), Museo Madre, Napoli, 2009
Exhibition view Alighiero & Boetti. Mettere al mondo l’arte (1962-1993), Museo Madre, Naples, 2009

Moreover, it’s interesting that Boetti’s latest artwork, that has to be intended as his artistic testament, it’s exactly a carpet, realized in five versions, one for each relative of the artist.

Alighiero Boetti, Tappeto, 1994
Alighiero Boetti, Tappeto, 1994

Just like in the tradition of Persian carpets, this one also represents the universe. However, in this case, it represents the artist’s world. That’s why traditional configurations of his artistic production can be found on it, but also many objects belonging to his daily life: the violin case of his mother, a toy of his son Giordano and other items of his house and his studio.
In addition, there’s also a carpet into a carpet. In fact, the artists also put decorated motifs taken from the Persian carpets of his collection.

Alighiero Boetti, dettaglio del Tappeto, 1994
Alighiero Boetti, detail of Tappeto, 1994

If you are curious about these works, you just have to go to the exhibition Alighiero Boetti: Minimum/Maximum, in Venice until the 12th of July.

Ludovica Matarozzo

Photo Credits:
https://www.archivioalighieroboetti.it/
http://www.madrenapoli.it/