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Boetti Artwork Leads First Sale for Bonhams New Contemporary Art Department

Bonhams new Contemporary Art Department announce the sale of a highly important work by one of the most influential Italian artists of the 20th century, Alighiero E Boetti (1940-1994), in the Department’s inaugural sale on 13 October 2011. Attracting a pre-sale estimate of £1,200,000 – 1,800,000 and entitled 1984, this monumental piece comprises 192 intricate pencil drawings of magazine covers which were published in 1984. Composed of 12 panels, one documenting each month of the year, it is the first time that this work has appeared at auction.

Boetti was a key member of the Arte Povera group of young Italian artists in the late 1960s which worked in radically new ways using simple and everyday materials, granting them a new lease of life through their clean and organic aesthetic. While Boetti is most famous for his series of large embroidered maps of the world, Mappa, he is also renowned for his pop art in which he used stamps, pens and magazine covers.

He began his first series of pencil drawings traced from the covers of popular magazines in the late 1970s, a striking example of which can be found in the permanent collection of the MoMA, New York. The following year he created the piece presented in this sale, his first complete collage of magazine covers spanning one year and measuring a monumental 9 x 2 metres. It was the first of four such works: others followed in 1988, 1989 and 1990 and are now placed in major public collections.

During his lifetime Boetti enjoyed both commercial and critical success and was the subject of a number of exhibitions. His first solo show was in 1967 at the Turin gallery of Christian Stein and later that year he participated in an exhibition at Galleria La Beriesca in Genoa. His first US solo show took place in New York at the John Weber Gallery in 1973 and he continued to exhibit throughout Italy and the US until his death in 1994.

He has also been honoured posthumously with several large-scale exhibitions, including Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome (1996) and Whitechapel Gallery (1999), while next year Tate Modern will be holding a retrospective exhibition, which will be the gallery’s first solo show by an Arte Povera artist. Deemed to be the must-see exhibition of 2012, the show will also travel to New York (MoMA) and Madrid (Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia).

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