Monna Lisa

Fernando Botero is the most famous painter of Latin America

Fernando Botero, Monna Lisa
Monna Lisa

Fernando Botero Angulo is a famous Colombian artist of the XX-XXI centuries who creates unusual paintings and sculptures with exaggerated volumes. The art of Fernando Botero is distinguished by the original author’s style, which is called “boterism”. The works of this artist are diverse in genre. He paints portraits, landscapes, still lifes, nudity, everyday scenes, creates parodies of classical works and addresses acute social themes.

Fernando Botero, Drummer

Biography of Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero was born in the Colombian city of Medellin on April 19, 1932. He was the second of three children in the family of a merchant and a dressmaker. The father of the future artist died early, so his uncle helped raise the children. In childhood and adolescence, Fernando did not have the opportunity to get acquainted with the masterpieces of world fine art, except for the architecture of the local Baroque church.

This is probably why he was able to develop his own unique style. The family did not approve of drawing lessons, but at the age of 12, his uncle took the boy to the school of matador. He did not become a successful bullfighter, but the topic of bullfighting took an important place in his work.

Fernando Botero, City

Fernando Botero first established himself as an artist at the age of 16: a popular local newspaper began to print his illustrations. The money went to education. The artist was already financially independent. In the capital, his first personal exhibition was held, at which some of his works were sold, a second took place a year later. In 1952, an award for second place at the ninth Salon of Artists of Colombia allowed him to travel across Europe. The painter visited the Louvre, Prado and other famous museums, and also studied fresco technique at the Accademia San Marco in Florence.

Fernando Botero, Married couple at picnic
Married couple at picnic

Artist initially lived in poverty

After returning to his homeland, the artist initially lived in poverty and was even forced to sell tires, since the public did not like his paintings. In 1957, he created the “Still Life with Mandolin”, a landmark for his work, which he then repeated several times in different variations. In this still life, Botero’s signature style with exaggerated forms was clearly manifested for the first time. If earlier the artistic manner of the author was constantly changing, then from that moment on it remained unchanged for decades. In the same year, a personal exhibition of the painter took place in the USA. Later, his works began to be sold in the Washington gallery, and he himself lived in New York for a long time.

Fernando Botero, Mother with children
Mother with children

The next important stage in his creative biography was 1976, when Fernando Botero moved to Paris and devoted himself to bronze sculpture. Now his sculptural works adorn the Champs Elysees in Paris, Park Avenue in New York and other famous streets and squares of world capitals. In the peculiarity of the volumetric forms, the influence of the Neolithic Venuses, the ancient Egyptian sphinxes and the art of the Native American peoples can be traced.

Currently, the 88-year-old artist and sculptor continues to work actively. He is very successful: he has several studios in cities in Europe and America. Exhibitions of his works open in different parts of the world every month. In total, the author created about 3,000 paintings and 200 sculptures. Many of them can be seen at the Botero Museum in Bogota.

Woman with dog
Woman with dog

In the same museum, from the personal collection of the master, works are kept:

  • Auguste Renoir;
  • Pierre Bonnard;
  • Marc Chagall;
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Salvador Dalí.

Now Fernando Botero lives with his third wife, the Greek artist Sofia Vari. In two previous marriages, he fathered four children.

Frank Lloyd and His Family in Paradise Island 1972
Frank Lloyd and His Family in Paradise Island 1972
The most famous paintings by Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero’s paintings are distinguished by bright colors and clear lines, which is typical for Latin American fine arts. But their main feature is exaggerated proportions, which are observed in paintings and sculptures. Viewers call the characters of this author fat, and he himself speaks of magical sensual volumes forgotten by contemporary artists. Here are some of Botero’s most famous works:

  1. Mona Lisa at the age of twelve (1959). One of the many parodies of Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces. This painting was the first work of the author, purchased for MoMA in New York.
  2. “Bird of Peace” (1990). The sculpture adorned Piazza San Antonio in Medellin, but was destroyed by a terrorist explosion in 1995. A few years later, Fernando Botero made an exact copy and donated it to the city again.
  3. Abu Ghraib (2005). The artist has created an extensive series of works dedicated to the ill-treatment of prisoners in the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prison by American soldiers.
  4. Death of Pablo Escobar (2006). During Escobar’s time, the crime rate in the artist’s hometown was one of the highest in the world. It was then that there was a terrorist attack at the statue
    “Bird”. After the death of the drug lord, the number of crimes in Medellin decreased by 70%.