From the massive textile maps and the maze of rugs in the MoMA’s atrium; to the smallest drawings and, even, just barely-there outlines of other drawings, upstairs in the exhibition’s second section on the sixth floor; to the near-obsessive use of typography, and collage, in works throughout; the career-spanning retrospective Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan, now through early October at the Museum of Modern Art, is a difficult exhibition for me to pin down.
So varied in style, and employing a host of different media (and would you call Boetti’s work conceptual, or not?) that I found myself changing my mind about the whole thing a dozen times or more as I wandered the galleries, the atrium, the sculpture garden. So: you should go see Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan at the MoMA and tell me what you think, please!
I knew pretty much zero about Alighiero Boetti before going to the MoMA last week and, if nothing else, this large and lively retrospective served as an excellent education on the man and his work (clearly I’m in the minority with my ignorance, as the galleries were pretty packed, albeit largely with Italian tourists).
Though the atrium pieces are impressive for their sheer size and intricacy, and look great in that soaring space, upon closer inspection it all felt a little ho hum in here, maybe because many of these ideas have been executed to death in the digital age. I’m thinking specifically about the world maps in which each country is made from their respective flags.
Even the extremely photogenic Tutto (“Everything”), was a bit of a snooze; it reminded me more than anything of those crazy multicolored crayons my kids used to always receive as birthday presents, though, of course, Boetti’s piece was embroidered by hand.
In the sixth-floor portion of Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan at the MoMA, however, there are plenty of cool, interesting, engaging works. The sculptures that greet you as you enter the galleries, for example, made from industrial hardware, are terrific, especially his Catasta (or, “Stack”).
The simple, collage-y collection of calender years from 1978 to 1994, individually framed and hung one on top of each other running up the wall, offers a particularly clever survey of fashionably-contemporary typefaces.
And I loved the fantastic giant light bulb in a wooden, mirrored box, which is programmed to flash on for 11 seconds at some random moment once ever year. Will it be… now? Maybe now? Maybe NOW?! It wasn’t, but it sure was fun to imagine the triumph you would feel if you happened to be there when it did.
Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan will be at the Museum of Modern Art through October 1. Remember: the MoMA is open seven days a week during the summer (until September 25, in fact), and is stays open late, until 8:00 p.m., on both Thursday and Friday. For more info on everything, check out the MoMA website. For another take on the exhibition, check out the NY Times review.
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