Evoking the images of voluptuous, voluminous people and objects, the Colombian figurative artist and sculptor, Fernando Botero Angulo, is highly regarded for his enormous metal sculptures and vibrantly colorful paintings of inflated human and animal shapes with unexpected shifts in scale.
Famous for his signature style, known as ‘Boterismo’, the prolific artist was born on April 19, 1932, in the city of Medellin, Colombia. In his youth, Botero attended a matador school for two years and then left the bull-ring behind to pursue an artistic career. At the age of 16, his paintings were first exhibited in 1948, and two years later he had his first one-man show in Bogota.
In his early years, Botero was inspired by the pre-Colombian and Spanish colonial art that surrounded him as well as by the political work of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. By the early 1950s, he had begun studying painting in Madrid, where he made his living by copying paintings hanging in the Prado Museum- particularly those of his idols at that time, Francisco de Goya and Diego Velázquez- and selling the copies to tourists. Botero spent much of the rest of the decade studying the art treasures of Paris and Florence.
Throughout the 1950s, Botero experimented with proportion and size, and he began developing his trademark style- round, bloated humans and animals- after he moved to New York city in 1960. The inflated proportion of his figures, including those in “Presidential Family” (1967), suggest an element of political satire, and are depicted using flat, bright color and prominently outlined forms- a nod to Latin-American folk art.
In 1973, Botero returned to Paris, where he began creating sculptures in addition to his works on canvas. These works extended the concerns of his painting, as he again focused on round 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.
In 2004, Botero turned to the overtly political, exhibiting a series of drawings and paintings focusing on the violence in Colombia stemming from drug cartel activities. In 2005, he unveiled his “Abu Ghraib” series, based on the reports of American military forces abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. The series took him more than 14 months to complete and received considerable attention when it was first exhibited in Europe.
Botero has donated several artworks to museums in Bogotá and his hometown, Medellin. In 2000, he donated to the Museo Botero in Bogotá 123 pieces of his work, and 119 pieces to the Museum of Antioquia. His donation of 23 bronze sculptures for the museum became known as the “Botero Plaza”.
Today Fernando Botero divides his time between Paris, New York and Tuscany. His paintings, sculptures, and drawings are exhibited and represented in the museum collections throughout the world.