Alghiero e Boetti

Esso Gallery

The grab-bag nature of the recent show of Alighiero e Boetti’s work, subtitled “postal travels, works on paper, embroideries, documents, and more, 1965–1992,” explains why this exhibition served as an apt tribute to an artist whose presence and work were in many ways elusive, at least for American audiences. Perhaps the most notable work on view, the multiple Dossier Postale, 1970–74, had never been shown in the United States, and the eight wonderfully atmospheric black-and-white portraits of the artist by Paolo Mussat Sartor, the photographic Boswell to his generation of Italian artists, contributed to a sense of encountering the artist in person.

The drawings on view, mostly from the ’80s, do not reveal a remarkable draftsman, but rather a lyrical, brainy, rather skittish sensibility that could never have fulfilled itself by conventional pictorial means—Boetti’s genius was for inventing

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