From 1971 to 1994, Italian artist Alighiero Boetti (1940–1994) embarked on a series of projects with Afghan embroiderers, creating monumental pieces that would become some of the artist’s most iconic works. Working first in Kabul in the 1970s and then in refugee camps in Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Afghan women embroidered works based on Boetti’s templates that include: colorful grids of letters that spell out phrases (such as “Order and Disorder”); Mappe (maps), wall-sized world maps with countries filled-in with the colors and symbols of their flags; andTutto (everything), large-scale works entirely filled with intricately embroidered shapes representing diverse objects—sunglasses, a Hindu goddess, a protractor, twins, and more. The exhibition features twenty-nine works by Boetti along with documentary photographs of the Afghan embroiderers taken in 1990 at Boetti’s request by Randi Malkin Steinberger, as well as examples of the traditional styles of embroidery that might have played a role in stimulating Boetti’s best-known works.
Banner image: © Alighiero Boetti Estate by Artists Rights Society (ARS) and Società Italiana di Autori ed Editori (SIAE) 2011.Courtesy Fondazione Alighiero e Boetti, Rome.
This exhibition is organized by the Fowler Museum in association with the Fondazione Azzurra and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Los Angeles, and is co-curated by Alma Ruiz, senior curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and specialist on the Arte Povera movement, and Christopher G. Bennett, Boetti scholar and Dean’s Post-doctoral Fellow in Art History at the University of Delaware.
Support for the exhibition comes from the Fowler’s Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg Fund and the Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director’s Discretionary Fund; an Anonymous Donor; Suzanne and David Johnson; the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Los Angeles; and the Italian Heritage Culture Foundation. Corporate sponsorship is provided by Disaronno.
Funding for the publication is provided by the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation.
Additional support for public programming is provided by the Fondazione Azzurra, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the UCLA Dream Fund, and Manus, the support group of the Fowler Museum.