Bonhams : Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994) Oggi il trentesimo del quarto mese uno nove otto nove 1989
Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994) Oggi il trentesimo del quarto mese uno nove otto nove 1989

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Lot 10AR
Alighiero Boetti
(Italian, 1940-1994)
Oggi il trentesimo del quarto mese uno nove otto nove

Sold for £ 293,812 (US$ 374,223) inc. premium
Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994)
Oggi il trentesimo del quarto mese uno nove otto nove

signed and dated 30/4/89 on the overlap
embroidery on canvas

109.8 by 112.5 cm.
43 1/4 by 44 5/16 in.


  • This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 8011, and is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity.

    Galleria Seno, Milan
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner circa 1997

    Alighiero Boetti is a pioneer of the Post-Modern age and one of the earliest revolutionary practitioners to use language as a formal device. Having influenced a generation of artists such as Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Lawrence Weiner he is an artist of superb intellect and broad aesthetic sense. In Oggi il trentesimo del quarto mese uno nove otto nove (Today is the thirtieth of the fourth month one nine eight nine) from 1989, Boetti pushes the limits of his ideas to their aesthetic limit, presenting an arazzo (tapestry) that is not only beautiful to the eye, but incorporates a wealth of processes, histories and ideas that enrich the kaleidoscopic grid of Latin and Farsi characters. Apparently chaotic and random at first glance, the present work elegantly hides the underlying rigour with which it is composed; a cryptographic game that draws the viewer into its dazzling visual mechanism.

    Strikingly radiant and brightly coloured, the present grid is an exemplary, mosaic like work from one of Boetti's best-known series, the Arazzi. Made in collaboration with traditional Afghan embroiderers, first in Kabul before moving to a workshop in Peshawar, Pakistan after the outbreak of the Afghan war in 1979, such tapestries emerged as dynamic, vivid patterns that expressed the wonderful intricacies of Boetti's practice. Interested in ordine e disordine – his concept of a natural balance that the artist believed existed in the world between order and chaos – in the present work, words and sayings are knotted and woven into grids that conceal their meaning until discovered.

    In such enigmatic riddles – beginning from top left – as 'i verbi irregolari' ('irregular verbs'), 'il dolce far niente' ('sweet nothing') and regola e regolarsi ('rules and regulations'), the artist poses no questions and offers no answers. Instead, the poetry of the language and the beauty of their form is the integral element of their choosing. Arranged in a quad of concentric squares, one inside of another, intended to be read left-to-right or top-to-bottom, Boetti's Arazzi perform precisely this function, to elevate language to its highest aesthetic form, abstracting it from representative meaning or linguistic function, orientated into a Minimalist grid of colours.

    Such a groundbreaking conceptual notion of art has made Boetti one of the most valued and respected artists of the latter half of the Twentieth Century – a true pioneer, precursor and influence to many contemporary artists working today. With works held in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Boetti has proved his immense global appeal. Honoured posthumously in 2011 with a major retrospective of his oeuvre at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, which then travelled to Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the artist has seen a consolidation of his value both institutionally and in the market.

    Briefly associated with the Arte Povera movement, Boetti cut ties with the group in 1972, but his acquired taste for recycling the commonplace or "non-art" continued even as a conceptual hook, finding the very fabric of communication his newfound tool. Completely original in his thinking and hugely celebrated for his influential contribution to the Post-Modern canon, Boetti repurposed language as a medium, opening up a new experience as curator Mark Godfrey suggests, "in which we read words differently and appreciate the shapes and colours of letters, rather than just approaching language for its information and instrumental purposes" (Mark Godfrey, Alighiero e Boetti, London 2009, pp. 128-129). An arazzo of exceptional quality, whose colours and composition remain fresh and vivid, Oggi il trentesimo del quarto mese uno nove otto nove is an elegantly sized canvas that boasts a striking spread of text and colours. Laced with poetic, enigmatic and compelling phrases, it is an extraordinary work by one of the most important and influential European conceptualists.
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