Botero, Fernando

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Botero, Fernando

Fernando Botero, 1932–, Colombian figurative painter and sculptor, b. Medellín, one of the most celebrated contemporary Latin American artists. He attended his native city's university (grad. 1950) and art academies in San Ferdinando, Spain (1952–53), and Florence, Italy (1953–55). Botero lived in Mexico (1956–57) and New York City (1960–73) before moving (1973) to Paris, where he usually resides. In an age that idolizes slenderness, Botero has made an art of corpulence. Strongly influenced by the colorful folk art of his homeland and by such painters as Velázquez, Goya, and Diego Rivera, he attempts to "create sensuousness through form" in his canvases of rounded, massively rotund figures painted in bright decorative hues and in his sculptures (notably monumental bronzes) of similarly voluminous people and animals. Often cheerfully whimsical and sometimes satirical in approach, his work typically includes individual and family portraits, nudes, equestrian figures, bullfighting scenes, and still lifes. Beginning in the late 1990s, as drug-fueled guerrilla warfare raged in Colombia, his work became much darker (though unchanged in style) as he created paintings and drawings of the period's kidnappings, massacres, torture, and death. He has continued exploring these themes in paintings that depict the abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

See biography by M. Hanstein (2003); E. J. Sullivan, Botero Sculpture (1986); W. Spies, Fernando Botero: Paintings and Drawings (1992); A. and J. C. Lambert, Botero Sculptures (1998); A. M. Escallon, Botero: New Works on Canvas (2000); P. Gribaudo, Botero Women (2003).

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