Leslie Rankow Fine Arts


Tag: pandemic

Airport, please! Heading to the Tornabuoni Gallery to see Alighiero Boetti’s Thinking About Afghanistan


MAPPA, 1971
Alighiero Boetti

In the Spring of 1971 while in search of something distant, Alighiero Boetti discovered Afghanistan. It was the beginning of a relationship that tied the man and his work to the people of Afghan for 23 years until his death in 1994. Boetti maintained these ties during the period of exile following the Soviet invasion of 1979, even welcoming some of his assistants into his own household in Italy. Afghanistan is the scene of the production of many of Boetti’s best-known works including Mappa 1971-1994 ,made by female Afghan embroiderers. His artistic intention, his experience of the country and his intellectual curiosity gave rise to works that act as both cutural and geopolitical seismographs. Boetti’s work bears witness to the socio-politico transformations that affected the Middle East in the 70s and 80s, seeing, ,for example, the embroiderers flee to Peshawar in Pakistan where some of the last tapestries were produced.

Tornabuoni Art
Paris, France

During our recent pandemic, our time of claustrophia, social distancing and limited travel wore heavily on all of those who impulsively booked a flight at will, going to art fairs, to unexplored cities, to see a museum exhibit and coming home, freedom! to escape one’s quotidian life and relationships. The LRFA blog, as a matter of fact, was inspired by the need to travel the world if only in the imagination.


Alighiero Boettti- Thinking about Afghanistan presents a selection of work at the gallery’s 16, avenue Matignon, 7500 in Paris, a converted train station flooded with skylights and architectural elements, continued from October 18 through December 22nd, 2021.

The exhibit presented a selection of works typical of this period, The Lavori Postali (Postal Works) which are iconic tapestries and a series of works on paper conceived in Boetti’s Roman studio when he could not travel to Afghanistan. These include The First Work of the Year While Thinking about Afghanistan – and includes a rich selection of photographs and archival documents owned by the Boetti estate, which provides insight into the context in which Alighiero Boetti worked.

Alighiero Boetti

BIO ALIGHIERO BOETTI Turin 1940- Rome, 1994

Alighiero Boetti – or Alighiero e Boetti as he liked to sign his works from 1971 – was born in Turin, Italy. The son of lawyer Corrado Boetti and violinist Adelina Marchisio, he began his career as a self-taught artist, after having briefly studied Business and Economics at the University of Turin.

In 1967, the Christian Stein gallery in Turin offered Boetti his first solo show, within a context marked by the recent birth of Arte Povera. The young artist was subsequently invited to take part in all group exhibitions around this theme, that paved the way for total freedom of artistic expression, and in shows on Conceptual Art such as ‘When Attitudes become Form’ at the Kunsthalle Basel in 1969.

The latter marked Boetti’s detachment from Arte Povera in favor of conceptual experimentation through duplication, symmetry and multiplication. His works then focused on codes of classification and communication, working with numbers, maps and alphabets, playing with a variety of materials and techniques, reminiscent of ancient Asian craftsmanship.

Boetti’s passion for Afghanistan began in the early 1970s with a few trips that later turned into long stays, and in 1971 Boetti and his wife opened the ‘One Hotel’ in Kabul. During this time Boetti began working on the Mappe (Maps), entrusting the realization of his famous tapestries to Afghan female embroiderers. The colours and shapes of the flags changed according to the world’s geopolitical context at the time of the realisation (1971-1994). Kabul inspired another famous series entitled Frasi messe al quadrato (Squared Sentences). After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (December 1979 – February 1980), the discontinuation of the production of tapestries led him to work with Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan (as from 1986).

Lavori Postale
Alighiero Boetti

A great traveller, Boetti spent long periods in different continents. Countries like Ethiopia, Guatemala and Japan inspired him to create his Lavori postali (Postal Works) with local stamps. Evoking the passing of time, these pieces were based on the mathematical mutation of the stamps and on the unpredictable adventure of the world’s postal services.

The revolutionary aspect of Boetti’s work was the creation of a paradigm within which to act for the people involved in the creative process, thus radically questioning the role of the artist and the impact of chance, sequence, repetition and authorship in the creation of a work of art. His work and attitude have strongly influenced the next generation of artists in Italy and around the world.

Traveling to Afghanistan at the beginning of the 1970s, he was introduced to the traditional craft of embroidery, which marked a turning point in the artist’s career. In his consequent Territori Occupati series (1971-92) he commissioned Afghan embroiderers to create a maps of the world, with each country bearing the colors and pattern of its flag. The commission grew into a beautifully crafted, large-scale series of maps produced over a period of twenty years in Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan. The land mass of each country is filled in with its flag.

We can now become more selective, targeting fairs and cities in which we intend to stay at least a few days. See you all at Miami Art Basel, in December?

Airport, please! Gagosian London reopens an extraordinary exhibit by Rachel Whiteread

Gagosian Gallery London
Grosvenor Hill

We’ve taken digital gallery hopping for granted, looking online at a great many exhibitions instead of seeing them in person and telling ourselves we “saw” the show. A familiarity with the theme of an exhibit, a new direction a familiar artist is exploring, seemed to suffice. Now that we have been so long deprived from an easy access to museums and galleries, the level of anticipation of viewing works in person is truly appreciated. Long may this last, a renewed appreciation of seeing contemporary shows in person and a significant increase in the very old habit of spending a day on the Lower East Side or Chelsea, or Mayfair or the Marais.

This week, London galleries have reopened from the pandemic quarantine with some extraordinary exhibitions. Airport, please! First stop, Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects, at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill. At last, a lockdown masterpiece, says The Guardian, in a recent article by Jonathan Jones reviewing the exhibition in London. As many of us have struggled with metaphorical ghosts in the loneliness and unease of lockdown, Rachel Whiteread has confronted her Ghost, a work she created in 1990, an icon of a new approach to sculpture, purchased by collector Charles Saatchi. Whiteread is celebrated for her ability to poetically capture the memory of a space.

Rachel Whiteread
Ghost, 1990
Plaster cast

In Internal Objects, Whiteread had revisited this early work during the lockdown, creating two remarkable new works, Poltergeist and Doppelganger. These works were not cast but assembled, two derelict exploding structures, shattered and abandoned, unified by being painted overall in a pure white.

The Guardian, Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects.


Rachel Whiteread


Dame Rachel Whiteread (born 20 April 1963) is an English artist who primarily produces sculptures, which typically take the form of casts. She was the first woman to win the annual Turner Prize in 1993.

Whiteread was one of the Young British Artists who exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition in 1997. Among her most renowned works are House, a large concrete cast of the inside of an entire Victorian house; the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna, resembling the shelves of a library with the pages turned outwards; and Untitled Monument, her resin sculpture for the empty fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to art.

Bio, Tate Modern


Ghost (1990) was Whiteread’s first large-scale sculpture and set in motion the ambitious, architecturally scaled works for which she is widely recognized today. Made by filling a room of a Victorian house in North London with concrete to create a solid cast that picks up the details of the walls, mantle, and windows, Ghost is a positive room-sized object that reveals itself gradually, as one encircles the huge form. Whiteread expanded on this working method in House (1993; destroyed 1994), cast from an entire Victorian terrace house. Whiteread created this work after all the other terraces in the row had been demolished, and it stood alone as a reminder of the working-class homes that once spanned the street. The sculpture sparked heated debates around issues of real estate, class divisions, and urban sprawl.

Gagosian Gallery, artist biography 



20 Grosvenor Hill has transformed a dated office building into a striking double height, day-lit gallery space. The entire 21,800 sq ft development has been let to the globally renowned Gagosian Gallery.

British architects TateHindle designed the exterior of the building replacing the old 1990s façade with handmade Roman bricks in a blue-grey palette. The design achieves a contemporary feel while also complementing the building’s historical context.

Award-winning architecture practice Caruso St. John created the interior scheme having previously designed galleries for Gagosian in Rome and Paris.

Grosvenor Hill and the surrounding area has been associated with the arts since the 1870s when Sir Coutts Lindsay opened the Grosvenor Gallery.  Gagosian Gallery at 20 Grosvenor Hill builds on this rich heritage.

Welcome to Leslie Rankow Fine Arts new blog, “Airport, please!”

JFK International

JFK International

As incredible as it seems, the first Leslie Rankow Fine Arts Blog posted in November, 2011. I cannot begin to express my gratitude and appreciation to all of the many contributors, from various areas of the art world: auction specialists, gallerists, framers, conservators, curators, collectors. Without their dedication and commitment and desire to share their knowledge and enthusiasm, the LRFA blog would not exist.

Times have radically changed. As we are hopefully nearing at the end of the covid-19 pandemic spectrum, we have all searched for ways to support galleries, promote artists, inform collectors, and attract buyers, using the extraordinary digital technology that has gained in sophistication since the LRFA blog first started. We are inundated with virtual viewing rooms, spotlights, email, blogs, posts, IG, a tsunami of social media, hoping to reach a new global audience by live streaming, video and digital means. Many are succeeding brilliantly, some will disappear and new voices will appear when all the doors reopen in one form or another and we can travel the world again mask-free.

Virtual Evening Sales at Sotheby’s

After a year of stasis, immobility and lockdowns, the urge to travel, to visit museums and galleries in foreign cities, to revisit favorite paintings in museums around the world, to view auction lots in person and attend fairs and sales, has taken hold. Airport, please! will feature exhibitions and museums that have caught the eye of the LRFA blog, with special posts by both dear, near and far friends, colleagues and experts whose vision we have so enjoyed since the inception of the blog and new contributors as well.

So book your trip on Airport, please! and join us. No social distancing necessary.

Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4

We are first heading to Rome, to The Mattatoio de Tastaccio, to view a photography exhibition organized by Rome’s Cultural Development Department, in conjunction with the International Photography Festival in Rome. Bringing together work by internationally known photographers, the exhibition highlights new and experimental approaches to documenting reality and to investigating history. The photographs were all taken in 2019, in the pre-covid era, but are more relevant than ever.

Sarah Moon
Rome, 2019

Photography. New 2020 productions for the Rome collection opened February 25 and will continue until May 16. The work of five new photographers will be added to the previous fifteen Italian and international photographers selected for artistic residencies in the capital and included in the Photographic Archive of the Museum of Rome.

Situated on the edge of the Tiber River, on Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4, in the recently gentrified Testaccio neighborhood, the Mattatoio is an ideal site for a community of cultural experimentation. In keeping with the bistros, clubs, and nightspots that surround it, MACRO’s space at the Mattatoio is open from 4pm until midnight.

Nadav Kander
Enduring Generations
Romana Forum

At its peak, Testaccio’s slaughterhouse was the largest in Europe. It was also one of the most technologically advanced. Built between 1888 and 1891 by Gioacchino Ersoch, architect emeritus of the City of Rome, the pavilions of the Mattatoio illustrate the transition from classicism to modernity and provide an important historical example of the monumentality and rationale of turn-of-the-century industrial architecture.

Tommaso Protti

Where to next? Stay tuned and as always, thank you for following the LRFA Blog!