Botero, Fernando

born April 19, 1932, Medellín, Colom.

Colombian painter and sculptor.

He began painting as a teenager. By the time he moved to New York City in 1960, he had developed his trademark style: the depiction of round, corpulent humans and animals. In these works, his use of flat, bright colour and boldly outlined forms reflected the influence of Latin American folk art, while his strong compositions often emulated the Old Masters. In 1973 Botero moved to Paris and began creating sculptures that again focused on rotund subjects. Successful outdoor exhibitions of his monumental bronze figures were staged around the world at the end of the 20th century.

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▪ 1994

      The monumental bronze sculptures and distinctive paintings of Colombian-born artist Fernando Botero were at the centre of controversy in 1993. After an extremely popular exhibition of Botero's sculptures of exaggerated human and animal forms was mounted in late 1992 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, a similar exhibition was held (Sept. 7-Nov. 14, 1993) on prestigious Park Avenue in New York City. The proposed site had stirred heated debate among the boulevard's wealthy residents, who objected not to Botero's work but rather to the crowds that would be flocking to see the sculptures and to the damages they might inflict on the avenue's manicured planting beds. The exhibition was mounted and damage was incurred—a vandal defaced one of the sculptures.

      Another Botero work (actually a clever forgery) caused a furor in the art world during the spring. On May 17, Christie's auction house staged a special sale featuring 11 Botero paintings. The catalog cover showcased "The Dancers," which Botero had painted in 1982. The painting of a monstrously obese couple was actually a forgery; the genuine painting belonged to a Florida collector. The embarrassed auction house quietly removed the copy. The staging of the sale and even the forged work reflected the rising popularity of both Botero's work and Latin-American art in general.

      Botero was born April 19, 1932, in Medellín, Colombia. He was heavily influenced by the Spanish Colonial art that surrounded him as a child. Other influences included pre-Columbian art; the Mexican muralists, including Diego Rivera; and Spanish masters Goya and Velázquez. After graduating (1950) from the Liceo de la Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, he had his first one-man show in Bogotá. Botero then began traveling; he studied in Madrid, where he made a living by copying paintings housed in the Prado and selling them to tourists. He later went to Paris to study the museum paintings of the old masters. In 1960 Botero moved to New York. His easily recognizable paintings of round, corpulent humans and animals became well known to the American art world. In the early '70s Botero moved to Paris and began creating sculptures in addition to painted works on canvas. During the 1980s, Botero's work became quite popular and began to command a high price in the marketplace. In 1992 one of his paintings depicting a brothel scene sold for $1.5 million, a record for a Botero at auction.

      In a U.S. exhibition in late 1993, Botero's pencil and watercolour canvases repeated the familiar themes of earlier work—portrait-style images of people (especially of families), bordello scenes, still lifes, and nudes. Botero alternately resided in Paris; New York City; Cajicá, Colombia; and Pietrasanta, Italy. (CHRISTINE SULLIVAN)

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▪ Colombian artist
born April 19, 1932, Medellín, Colombia
 
 Colombian artist known for his paintings and sculptures of inflated human and animal shapes.

      As a youth, Botero attended a school for matadors for several years, but his true interest was in art. While still a teenager, he began painting and was inspired by the pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial art that surrounded him as well as by the political work of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (Rivera, Diego). His own paintings were first exhibited in 1948, and two years later, in Bogotá, he had his first one-man show. While studying painting in Madrid in the early 1950s, he made his living by copying paintings housed in the Prado Museum—particularly those of his idols at the time, Francisco de Goya (Goya, Francisco de) and Diego Velázquez (Velázquez, Diego)—and selling them to tourists. He spent much of the rest of the decade studying the art treasures of Paris and Florence.

      Throughout the 1950s Botero began experimenting with proportion and size. When he moved to New York City in 1960, he had developed his trademark style: the depiction of round, corpulent humans and animals. In these works he referenced Latin-American folk art in his use of flat, bright colour and boldly outlined forms. He favoured a smooth look in his paintings, eliminating the appearance of brushwork and texture, as in Presidential Family (1967). In works such as this, he also drew from the Old Masters he had emulated in his youth: his formal portraits of the bourgeoisie and political and religious dignitaries clearly reference the composition and meditative quality of formal portraits by Goya and Velázquez. The inflated proportions of his figures, such as those in Presidential Family, also suggest an element of political satire, perhaps hinting at the subjects' inflated sense of their own importance. His other paintings from the period include bordello scenes and nudes, which possess comic qualities that challenge and satirize sexual mores, and portraits of families, which possess a gentle, affectionate quality.

      In 1973 Botero returned to Paris and began creating sculptures in addition to his works on canvas. These works extended the concerns of his painting, as he again focused on rotund subjects. Successful outdoor exhibitions of his monumental bronze figures, including Roman Soldier (1985), Maternity (1989), and The Left Hand (1992), were staged around the world in the 1990s. He also continued to paint, creating bullfight scenes throughout the 1980s.

Additional Reading
Monographs on the artist's work include Cynthia Jaffee McCabe (compiler), Fernando Botero: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution (1979); Carter Ratcliff, Botero (1980); Marlborough Gallery, Inc., Fernando Botero: Paintings (1996); Jean-Clarence Lambert, Botero Sculptures, ed. by Benjamín Villegas (1998); and Ana María Escallón, Botero: New Works on Canvas, trans. from Spanish (1997). A thorough catalog of his work is Edward J. Sullivan and Jean-Marie Tasset, Fernando Botero: Monograph & Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings, 1975–1990, trans. from French (2000).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Botero, Fernando — (4/19/1932 Medellin ) (Colombia)    Painter, sculptor, and art teacher. Studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. Known for creating images human and animal figures with greatly exaggerated proportions which makes… …   Dictionary of erotic artists: painters, sculptors, printmakers, graphic designers and illustrators

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