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Alighiero e Boetti

Whitechapel Gallery

Generally, the most basic fact about an artistic activity or object is the distinction between it and whatever is not art. But in his artmaking, Alighiero e Boetti (1940–1994) was continually demonstrating that he had only ever been making art, even before he was self-consciously an artist, or so it seems from his autobiographical statement of 1967:

In 1948 I tore a large sheet of brown paper to get little rectangular pieces that I piled up and with which I erected a rather unstable column. In 1954 I straightened out a piece of corrugated cardboard with a surface area of a square metre. Since 1957, without interruption, I have been smoothing out the silver paper from cigarette boxes. In 1962 I began to detach the filters from cigarettes, with which I created long strips. . . . In 1958, under the guidance of Mr. Sergio Vercellino, a resident of Vagliumina (Biella) and an agriculturalist, I

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