New York

Alighiero Boetti

John Weber Gallery

Alighiero Boetti's work leaves me puzzled. Is he deliberately mocking the notion of art as a solution to a problem? Is his use of a series taken through various permutations an indictment of the repetition of art production, varying the terms without changing the theme? Or, is he questioning judgments of quality, of one answer being more valid than another? His drawings are all on graph paper—as if to emphasize their grounding in mathematical truth. One group involves the filling in of a set number of consecutive squares, the set number of times, each pattern being different. Seven sevens, nine nines, etc., the' most being 119 119s. Would an arrangement other than that given be any more right, any better in its solution of the task? And once one has completed seven sevens, why continue to nine nines? Is it just an excuse for making another image? Or, is it an investigation of what happens as more and more squares are filled up until finally the rules of procedure can no longer be followed? A similar series uses subtraction. Four differences of fours, four paired motifs, in each one hieroglyph four squares less than the other. Is this a problem? Or, is it a demonstration of what one can do? A kind of game for which one might imagine an infinity of variations? Two other drawings are entitled Squaring a Thousand. In one ten large (32 x 32 unit) squares contain different fillings in (subtractions) of 24 units, leaving 1000. In the other varying configurations of 39 outlines units are added to each of the five (31 x 31 unit) squares to yield 1000. But what is the purpose of all this? Is it simply an illustration of how art is nothing but a game of contriving a procedure and then filling in with answers, one no better than the other? And if this is so, doesn't the work fall into its own trap?

Susan Heinemann