" First of all I prefer thought. This is the basic thing. I really think manual skill is secondary... It’s taking things from reality. Everything, however small and humble, always has a beginning and stems from reality. "
Alighiero Boetti debuted during the second half of the sixties. After the first exhibition at the Gallery Christian Stein in Turin in 1967, he participated to the demonstrations of Arte Povera (Poor Art’s movement), with a work which distinguished itself for the multiplicity of interests and for the expressive experimentalism. In March 1971 Boetti went for the first time in Afghanistan, to where, until the soviet occupation in December 1979, he would come back twice a year. He ordered to the Afghan women different types of handworks that had been drawn by him and embroidered according to the local tradition. Also in the same period he began to sign as “Alighiero e Boetti”; this is the arrival point of a reflection on the splitting between reality and language, started in the Sixties with the work Gemelli (Twins): a postcard where it is shown the artist who held hands with another himself, that was similar but not completely identical to him, while they are walking together on a tree-lined. When he moved from Turin to Rome, he became a pioneer and protagonist of the Conceptual Art in Italy, thanks also to his interests for philosophy, mathematics and alchemy. After a cold beginning close to the American Minimalism, Boetti switched to figurative solutions which were tinged with irony and joyful chromatic elegance; draws by ballpoint pens of repeated cross-hatching, combinations of letters of the alphabet on chessboards, commas on blue background as a new cosmology, multiplied masks. During the eighties and until the purchases of the nineties, received by the artist for big installations at sets of museums, the organization for the production of the works was well tested. The works on paper were more and he experienced new realizations such as mosaics. As always, the planning aspect of the work, was followed by the external contribution of the others’ hands. He had exposed his works in the most prestigious and emblematic exhibitions of his generation, from ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ (1969) to ‘Contemporanea’ (Rome 1973), from ‘Identité Italienne’ (Paris, 1981) to ‘The Italian Metamorphosis 1943-1968’ (Guggenheim Museum New York, 1994). In 1990 Boetti was invited at the Biennial of Venice with a personal room and there he won a special prize. A posthumous homage show was presented in the 2001 edition. Not only his works but his choices as an artist strongly influenced the generation of artists that followed and many young people of the new millennium, in Italy and in the world.