Biography of Fernando Botero | Colombian painter and sculptor

Owner of a very personal style, the Colombian painter and sculptor is one of the most quoted figures of the international art scene.

Few American artists have achieved such an impact internationally as the Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero. His personal style, which has among the most easily identifiable traits enlargement or deformation of the volumes, has earned the admiration of both critics and the general public, which can not escape the singular expression of an aesthetic in which the human and social problems occupy a priority place.

Fernando Botero
Born in Medellin in 1932, Fernando Botero was the second of the three sons of the couple formed by David Mejia Botero and Flora angle of Botero. Although in his youth he was during a short period of time in the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid and San Marco in Florence, his artistic education was self-taught. His first known works are the illustrations published in the literary supplement of the newspaper El Colombiano, in his hometown.
At the age of 19 he traveled to Bogotá, where he made his first individual exhibition of watercolors, gouaches, inks and oils in the Leo Matiz Gallery, and lived for some time in Tolu with the proceeds. Staying there would be oil facing the sea, which won the second prize for painting, consisting of two thousand pesos, in the 9th annual Salon of Colombian artists. The critic Walter Engel, in the time of the August 17, 1952, found that it had "a strong, well built and well done composition", but writer Luis Vidales criticized it for its "inconceptual elongation of figures".
Then Botero, traveled to Europe, where he lived for four years, mainly in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and Florence. Although he entered the above mentioned academies, continued forming based on read, visit museums and, above all, paint, as he himself would say. Then he traveled to Mexico, New York and Washington in a period of feverish creation and limited economic resources, accompanied by his wife Gloria Zea. Back in Colombia, Botero shared the second prize and silver medal at X Salon of Colombian artists, with Jorge Elías Triana and Alejandro Obregón. His counterpoint oil was lauded by critics unanimously for his contagious joy.
The camera degli sposi was awarded the first prize in the 11th national exhibition held in September 1958. In this work Botero managed to get rid of a distant influence of Mexican muralism and head, without hesitation and by his admiration for the artists of the Italian Renaissance, towards the consolidation of what someone called "boteroformismo".

Picnic (1989)
The painter had said for four years his admiration for the serene monumentalism of Paolo Ucello and what he called "a renaissance of stone, by the concepcion-bloque of forms", Marta Traba that also managed to Piero de la Francesca; in a tribute to Mantegna, exacerbation of volumes and the realization or basic geometric shapes (which Walter Engel related to pre-Columbian sculptures of St. Augustine) managed the birth of a painting "deeply original, as antibarroca as anticlasica, as antiexpresionista as antiabstracta", in the words of locking. Anyway, the prize at the XI Salon was consecrating.
Between 1961 and 1973 he settled in New York. He would then live in Paris, alternating her residence in the French capital with long stays in Pietrasanta or his farm in the cundinamarques village of Tabio. To 1964, Fernando Botero made his first forays into the sculptural field works as head of Bishop, figure, made of sawdust and glass eyes with dough, had clearly reminiscent of Baroque colonial imagery. Starting from 1975, in Pietrasanta, would be devoted to the sculpture with enthusiasm: "seemed as if all of that universe of monumental figures that was developing in the painting - writes Escallon - had found total eco in the three-dimensional. Today, the one feeds the other. Much of the imaginative richness comes from painting, which gives ideas, solutions and possibilities... Botero dismantles the pictorial structure for synthesizing the form into a sculptural unit".

Fernando Botero poses next to one of his works
In 1977 his bronzes he exhibited for the first time at the Grand Palais in Paris. After four decades of uninterrupted work, its recognition in the field of sculpture was also universal. Apotheosis was the exhibition of his enormous sculptures on the Champs Elysées in Paris during the summer of 1992, and in the following year on Fifth Avenue in New York, Buenos Aires and Madrid.
Already become one of the most sought-after living artists in the world, Botero has never ceased, however, speak out against injustice and to keep his art in line with the historical and social reality. It serves to illustrate one of his most recent pictorial series, which took place on the tortures committed by marines in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib (2003), within the framework of the US occupation of Iraq. Presented in 2005 at the Venice Palace in Rome, the disturbing power of this collection of fifty canvases also testified that pulse and the creativity of the artist has not waned at all over the years.

Chronology of Fernando Botero

1932Born in Medellin.
1946He began his career as an Illustrator in the newspaper El Colombiano.
1951First solo exhibition in Bogota.
1952Resides in Tolu. Gets the second prize in the 9th annual Salon of Colombian artists.
1952-55Stay in Europe (Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, and Florence). Although for a short time, he studied in the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid and San Marcos de Florencia.
1956He married Gloria Zea and travels to Mexico, New York and Washington.
1957Second prize at the Salon of Colombian artists X.
1958He was named Professor of the school of fine arts of the National University of Bogota. Gets the first prize at the XI national Salon of Colombian artists.
1961-1973Resides in New York.
1973He settled in Paris, but with longer stays in Pietrasanta (Italy) and on his farm in Tabio (Colombia).
1976Intensifies its devotion to the sculpture.
1977His sculptural work in the Grand Palais of Paris exposes for the first time.
1985 He exhibits his pictorial series run.
2005He exhibited his series of paintings about the torture in the prison of Abu Ghraib (Iraq).

Works of Fernando Botero

Colombian and universal, seemingly naive and deeply analytical, the work of the Colombian Fernando Botero has earned a unanimous recognition. Artist self-taught, in his painting can be tracked the influences of his Florentine period, especially in the resource to Renaissance (influences le the work of Ucello and Piero della Francesca). Much more in keeping with its character and its roots, there is also in his work a strong presence of the colonial and popular painting of the Colombia of the 19th century, as well as the influence of the muralist school. In the elaborate dedication of his painting technique is the presence of the great painters of the Spanish Baroque and the strong personality of Goya. 
The most peculiar feature of his creative personality, which makes it easily recognizable for its pictures, is his particular conception and expression of the volumes: makes the illustrations that protagonists of his paintings suffer from an enlarged which is disproportionate for small pictorial space that made to dwell. The distorted image that carries his painting into the realm of the grotesque is the component in a critical mood expressing his canvases. Combining gigantism and humour, their supercharged monsters, swollen bellies and rigid attitudes, are a sarcastic critique of contemporary society. On the other hand, this ugly painting is combined with a great technical virtuosity, perceiving in the background of his works the painting of Velázquez and Goya.
Since the end of the 1950s, Botero was "getting fat" its volumes and dislodging backgrounds and perspectives to the overwhelming and unstoppable momentum of those. It uses one brushstroke increasingly more refined and a "pictorial" drawing insofar as it molds the shape rather than to delimit it, establishing at the same time as a sensitive and rich colourist. "Subsequently, his brushwork - initially emphasized and concrete, allowing glimpses the structure of box - is becoming less noticeable, while its figures, objects and fruits acquire an opulent sensuality, not only with the amplification but with the careful and delicate application of pigment. Their perspectives are sometimes arbitrary, as it is the scale of the figures, which varies according to its thematic and compositional importance,"wrote Eduardo Serrano.
The controversy over the ugly and grotesque that might be the figures of Botero has been dissipating over the years. On the cartoon issue, the painter said: "deformation would be the exact word. In art, if someone has ideas and thought, does not have another exit which distort the nature. Art is deformation; my themes are sometimes satirical, but the deformation is not, I do the same thing with oranges and bananas and I have nothing against these fruits".
Marta Traba, referring to the exhibition at the Museum of modern art in Bogota, of 1964, said: "the biggest problem posed by the exhibition of Botero's ugliness; It is difficult to accept because it refers to an appearance; It is only abusing surface, volume, or the normal dimension of things. It is not a moral ugliness, inside, of content, that translating the dramatic essence of the man comes to produce monsters. None of that: the ugliness of the figures of Botero is what he is, or deeper or more far away than it is. It is an enormous and legendary invention of ways new, so different from real life that do not accept any comparison with them. The black Pope is not the caricature of this or which character alive. Not; It is a volume coming to force grow, overwhelm, compulsively occupy space and eliminate any reference point, to assume the role of everything perfectly. Each form of Botero aims to be, well, a total world. The artist lives also the little ceremonious fabulist Antioqueño, full of sense of humor... "In his paintings is fascinating to read a number of stories in which, as in the tales, snake, fly or Apple are there because they needed to complete the composition".

Massacre in Colombia (2000)
Botero is a fully Latin American artist. "I'm the most Colombian of Colombian artists, even though I've lived outside Colombia for so much time." Its major themes have always had the presence of the country. When not painting to Colombia in a physical way (villages, mountains, flags and bars) or cultural (virgins, Saints, Presidents, prostitutes, nuns or military), can sense even within their versions of the works of universal painting. "Botero is an authentic representative of Latin American art - writes Ana Maria Escallon - not only by their subjects but his magical realism." Works from a world known and remembered, but in it appear and many wonderful things happen: the composition on a background color came from eight prelates stacked on each other as if they were the fruits of a still life of dead bishops (1965) oil; the huge disproportion between the tiny first lady and the giant military, with a tiny Cup of oil dictator taking chocolate (1969); the presence of a rump and a snake on the floor of the room, family with Colombian animals (1970) charcoal."
The death has been one of the recurring themes of his painting; from those dead bishops (1965) and the murder of Ana Rosa Calderon (1970) up to the master shows the run (1985), who traveled through Europe and the United States. The run also shows how Botero takes the themes in a personal way, by embedding its figures within the plastic universe created by it. Apropos of this work, has written:"the Bullfight collects all the global experience of the painter Botero; It is a particular universe in which effortlessly could recognize echoes of all the individual universes that Botero has already created: the particular universe of power with their presidential families and his generals, the particular universe of grace and Sin with its episodes of Saints, bishops, demons and houses of appointments; the Colombian private universe with his still lifes and landscapes and national celebrations; the particular universe of art, which constantly feeds and refers to it again and again in all his work." Botero is, without doubt, the Colombian painter of more universal resonance.

Canvas from the series La corrida
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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