Major shows in Venice and Paris to map Alighiero Boetti’s monumental spectrum

Cini Foundation and Tornabuoni’s new outpost in the French capital will host exhibitions in 2017


Alighiero Boetti (1940-94), the post-war Italian conceptual artist whose star has been in the ascendant in recent years, will be the subject of major exhibitions in Venice and Paris.

Coinciding with the opening week of the Venice Biennale (8-13 May), an ambitious survey of Boetti’s work will bring together his largest and smallest pieces from 11 of his most important cycles of work, including his well-known airplane series, maps and embroideries. The Cini Foundation, on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, is hosting the show, entitled Minimum/Maximum.

With major loans coming from both sides of the Atlantic, and significant input from the artist’s family and the Alighiero Boetti Archive, the curator and director of the Cini Foundation’s Institute of Art History, Luca Massimo Barbero, plans a linear approach to the show.

He explains: “We want to move away from the thematic slant that his exhibitions tend to have. This show brings a different focus on his work: we’re interested in the artist’s process and development rather than his conceptualism. We want to start from a close-up and intimate exploration of his initial concepts and then move on to the bigger iterations of those same ideas.

“It’s interesting because viewers will really begin to understand how his monumental works are the result of a lengthy research process. They have the kind of continuity that is not so common nowadays—so much of the art of today is conceived and made with the single aim of filling a large space on a wall.”

Meanwhile, the Tornabuoni gallery, which is supporting the exhibition in Venice, is also hosting its own retrospective of Boetti’s work at its new Paris space, which is due to open on 3 February in Passage de Retz, in the Marais district. The renovated 17th-century townhouse, complete with skylights, double-height ceilings and 720 sq. m of exhibition space, will hold a career-spanning selection of Boetti’s works.

The show in Paris will include four large-scale pieces: Anno 1984 (1984) from his Copertine (covers) series; Mappa (1989-94); Tutto (1992-94), the largest work of its kind still in private hands, which was shown in 2016 at the gallery’s London space; and Mettere al mondo il mondo (To bring the world into the world) (1975), one of the largest works from his Biro series.