Artist
Fernando Botero
Colombian artist

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Fernando Botero
Colombian artist
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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Birth Date

April 19, 1932

Arty Fact

kwatkins's picture

Contributor

Fernando Botero is known for painting portraits featuring plump people. But he would like you to know they aren’t fat; they’re “volumetric.”

Fernando Botero was born in 1932 in Medellín, Colombia — and don’t forget it. Though he left Colombia in his 20s, Botero frequently refers to himself as “the most Colombian of Colombian artists.” His reason? He continues to paint Colombian scenes, and despite living in New York and Paris for many years, has NEVER painted those cities. Fair enough.

Like so many artists, he had a bit of a traumatic early childhood. His mother was a seamstress and his father was a salesman who traveled by mule throughout the Andes to sell clothes and other items. His father died of a heart attack when Botero was four years old, leaving the family with very little money. When he told his mother that he wanted to be an artist, she said, ‘You’re going to die of hunger.’”

But before he had these crazy dreams of becoming an artist, Little Botero wanted to be a bullfighter because that’s what the cool kids did back in the day. With the help of his uncle, he enrolled in a matador school in Medellin. Fortunately for us, he quickly realized that he liked painting the bulls more than fighting them.

One day, he showed his drawings to the owner of a store that sold bullfighting tickets. The owner liked his work and offered to display it in the store. Within a few days, he had sold one of the drawings and Botero received 2 pesos from the sale. “I was so excited," Botero recounts, "that I ran home to tell my brother, but on the way I lost the money. My first sale, and I lost it.” Claaassic.

Botero continued painting and won a national art award when he was 20. He used the prize money to go to Europe, where he encountered paintings by the Renaissance rockstar Piero della Francesca and developed a mild obsession with Italian art and its voluptuous forms. This had a huge influence on the development of his own signature-style, Boterismo, aka painting and sculpting inflated/exaggerated/rotund/plump/insert-your-adjective-of-choice depictions of people and animals. But despite what the general public might think, Botero insists he doesn’t paint fat figures.

"I don't paint fat women. Nobody believes me but it is true. What I paint are volumes. When I paint a still life I also paint with volume, if I paint an animal it is volumetric, a landscape as well," he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo. Ok, man, whatever you say. I guess you are the artist after all.

Though sometimes cute or humorous, Botero’s volumetric figures have also starred in politically-charged paintings. In the 90s, he did a series of paintings that focused on drug-related violence in Colombia, including one that showed an inflated Pablo Escobar being gunned down by police.

But Botero also found himself a target of violence on several occasions. In 1994, wannabe kidnapers entered Botero’s house in Colombia looking for the artist. Finding he wasn’t at home, they killed both of his dogs instead (ugh, I have no words). “After that incident, I never put my foot in that house again. Never again. I spend a month in Colombia every year, but in a different house,” he said.

Now in his 80s, Botero still paints prolifically. And because we’re living in an era in which anything can be turned into a meme and become forever memorialized on the internet, it should be noted that a Botero painting of Pope Leon X is the “volumetric” face behind the popular “y tho” meme. Because why not?

 

Sources

Sources

  1. Mchugh, Fionnuala, “My life: Fernando Botero” last modified June 2, 2013. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1249588/my-life-fer...
  2. “Fernando Botero,” Google Arts & Culture, accessed September 21, 2018, https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/m01ry44?categoryid=artist
  3. Forero, Juan, “Turning an Eye From Whimsy to War; The Colombian Artist Fernando Botero Captures the Agony and Absurdity of a Drug-Fueled Conflict” last modified May 3, 2004. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/03/arts/turning-eye-whimsy-war-colombian...
  4. Esterow, Milton, “Botero: ‘You Can’t Be Liked By Everybody’,” ArtNews, last modified January 30, 2013. http://www.artnews.com/2013/01/30/fernando-botero-says-you-cant-be-liked...
  5. “10 Things to Know About Fernando Botero,” Christie’s, accessed September 21, 2018. https://www.christies.com/features/Fernando-Botero-7354-1.aspx
  6. “Colombian artist Fernando Botero says in interview he is 'not obsessed with fat women'”, ArtDaily, accessed September 21, 2018. http://artdaily.com/news/68807/Colombian-artist-Fernando-Botero-says-in-...
  7. Hodgson, Martin, “Colombia's latest weapon: art,” The Christian Science Monitor, last updated January 8, 2001. https://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0108/p6s1.html

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero Angulo (born 19 April 1932) is a Colombian figurative artist and sculptor. Born in Medellín, his signature style, also known as "Boterismo", depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Self-titled "the most Colombian of Colombian artists" early on, he came to national prominence when he won the first prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1958. Working most of the year in Paris, in the last three decades he has achieved international recognition for his paintings, drawings and sculpture, with exhibitions across the world. His art is collected by many major international museums, corporations, and private collectors. In 2012, he received the International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Fernando Botero.

Comments (2)

Francisco

When I look at his work, I feel thin again!

Francisco

Sometimes after a large meal, I feel quite volumetric myself. Actually, even before a large meal. I need to do some diet and excercise :(