Fernando Botero was one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. His distinctive style of depicting people and animals in exaggerated proportions, known as "Boterismo", earned him worldwide recognition and admiration. He was also a prolific sculptor, whose monumental bronze figures can be seen in public spaces around the globe. Botero's art was inspired by his Colombian roots, his love of art history, and his social and political commentary. He died at the age of 91 in Monaco, leaving behind a legacy of hundreds of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints.

Botero was born in Medellín, Colombia, on April 19, 1932. His father was a traveling salesman who died of a heart attack when Botero was four years old. His mother worked as a seamstress to support the family. Botero showed an early interest in art and began drawing and painting as a child. He also attended a school for matadors for two years, but gave up bullfighting to pursue his artistic career. He had his first exhibition at the age of 16, and won the first prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1958.

Botero traveled extensively throughout his life, studying and working in various countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, and the United States. He was influenced by the art of different cultures and periods, from pre-Columbian and colonial art to European masters such as Goya, Velázquez, Uccello, and Piero della Francesca. He developed his own unique style of painting and sculpting, characterized by the use of round, voluminous forms that convey a sense of weight, solidity, and sensuality. He often depicted scenes from everyday life in Colombia, such as families, musicians, dancers, and street vendors. He also painted portraits of famous figures such as Pablo Escobar, Simon Bolivar, and Mona Lisa. He used humor and irony to critique the social and political issues of his time, such as violence, corruption, inequality, and human rights violations.

Some of his most famous works include:

Mona Lisa, Age Twelve (1959): A parody of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, showing a young girl with a chubby face and a mischievous smile.

The Presidential Family (1967): A satire of the Colombian elite, showing a pompous president with his wife and children dressed in extravagant clothes and jewelry.

The Dancers (1987): A celebration of the Colombian culture and folklore, showing a group of dancers in colorful costumes performing a traditional dance.

Death of Pablo Escobar (1999): A dramatic depiction of the assassination of the notorious drug lord, showing him lying on a rooftop surrounded by blood and bullet holes.

Abu Ghraib series (2005): A denunciation of the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, showing them in humiliating and painful positions.

The Musicians (2007): A tribute to the joy of music, showing a band of musicians playing various instruments with enthusiasm and expression.

Botero's sculptures are equally impressive and recognizable. He began sculpting in 1973, using bronze as his preferred material. He created large-scale versions of some of his paintings, as well as original sculptures of animals such as cats, dogs, horses, and birds. He donated many of his sculptures to public places such as parks, squares, and museums. Some of his most notable sculptures include:

Bird (1990): A giant bird that stands over four meters tall in Plaza San Antonio in Medellín.

Woman with Fruit (1991): A voluptuous woman holding a basket of fruit in front of the Museo de Antioquia in Medellín.

Adam and Eve (1994): A pair of nude figures that flank the entrance of the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Hand(1997): A huge hand that emerges from the ground in Parque de la Memoria in Buenos Aires.

Warrior (Roman Soldier) (2003): A colossal warrior that guards the entrance of Marlborough Gallery in New York.

Cat (2006): A playful cat that sits on a ledge in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.

Woman with Umbrella (1987): A voluptuous figure stands poised, holding a broad umbrella, showcasing Botero's characteristic play on proportion and scale.

Bull (2002): Botero's interpretation of this strong, fierce animal is both stout and endearing, with rounded curves softening its otherwise intimidating presence.

Ballerina Dancer (2006): This delightful sculpture, often titled "Dancer", epitomizes grace and elegance. Botero's dancer, with her rotund form, challenges conventional ideals of a ballerina's physique while capturing the essence of the art form.

Matador (2007): Reflecting Botero's cultural roots, this piece portrays a bullfighter, standing confidently, yet rendered in the artist's distinctively plump style.

Reclining Nude Woman (1993): Botero's tribute to femininity, where the subject, often referred to as "Reclining Woman", lies in relaxed repose, her form exuding comfort in her own skin.

Trojan Horse (1992): A whimsical take on the legendary horse from ancient Greek lore, Botero's version is stout and imposing, embodying both strength and intrigue.

Married Couple (2001): Two rotund figures, symbolizing the bond of matrimony, stand side by side in endearing proximity, reflecting the comfort and closeness of a loving relationship.

Mother with Child (1996): This heartwarming piece, frequently termed "Mother and Child", showcases the universal bond of maternal love. The exaggerated forms only enhance the feeling of protective warmth.

View and purchase many more pieces by, or inspired by the late artist in our Fernando Botero collection.

Botero's art has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries around the world. He also established the Museo Botero in Bogotá in 2000, where he donated over 200 works from his personal collection. He received many awards and honors for his artistic achievements, such as the Praemium Imperiale from Japan in 1992 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center in 2012.

Botero died on September 15, 2023, in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where he had lived since 1973. He was survived by his wife, Greek sculptor Sophia Vari, and his four children from his previous marriage to Colombian journalist Gloria Zea. He was mourned by millions of fans and admirers who appreciated his art and his contribution to the cultural heritage of Colombia and the world. He was buried in his hometown of Medellín, where a large crowd gathered to pay their respects and honor his memory.

Fernando Botero was a master of voluminous forms, a creator of beauty and humor, and a voice of conscience and dignity. His art will continue to inspire and delight generations of viewers who will discover his unique vision and style. He was a true legend of Colombian and universal art..

(1) Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, known for his inflated forms, has died at age 91. https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/renowned-colombian-painter-sculptor-fernando-botero-died-age-103220040.
(2) Renowned Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero has died at age 91, daughter says. https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/renowned-colombian-painter-and-sculptor-fernando-botero-has-died-at-age-91-daughter-says/4682549/.
(3) Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, known for his inflated forms, dies at 91. https://www.dallasnews.com/arts-entertainment/visual-arts/2023/09/15/visual-artsentertainmententertainmentworld-newsgeneral-newsfernando-botero-colombia-dead-sculpture/.
(4) Fernando Botero | Biography, Paintings, Sculptures, Style, & Facts. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Fernando-Botero.
(5) Fernando Botero - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Botero.
(6) Fernando Botero - 177 artworks - painting - WikiArt.org. https://www.wikiart.org/en/fernando-botero.
(7) Fernando Botero | Artnet. https://www.artnet.com/artists/fernando-botero/.
(8) Fernando Botero - 177 artworks - painting - WikiArt.org. https://www.wikiart.org/en/fernando-botero/all-works.
(9) 6 Fernando Botero Paintings That Highlight His Love of Full-Figured Forms. https://mymodernmet.com/fernando-botero-paintings/.
(10) Getty Images. https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/colombian-figurative-artist-and-sculptor-fernando-botero-news-photo/1267619042.

Max Carver