Botero, Fernando

Botero, Fernando Biography

Born in Medellin, Colombia, Botero attended a school for matadors from 1944 to 1946 but his true interest was in art. He first exhibited his paintings in 1948 in Medellin with other artists from the region. At that time he was influenced by the work of Mexican artists Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. In 1952 Botero began studies at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain, visiting the Prado Museum daily. He went to Paris in 1953, studying the old masters in the Louvre Museum. Later that year, he traveled to Florence, Italy, where he studied such Italian masters as Giotto and Piero della Francesca.

When he moved to New York City in 1960, he had developed his trademark style: the depiction of round, corpulent humans and animals. In these works he referenced Latin-American folk art in his use of flat, bright colour and boldly outlined forms. He favoured a smooth look in his paintings, eliminating the appearance of brushwork and texture, as in Presidential Family (1967). In works such as this, he also drew from the Old Masters he had emulated in his youth: his formal portraits of the bourgeoisie and political and religious dignitaries clearly reference the composition and meditative quality of formal portraits by Goya and Velezquez. The inflated proportions of his figures, such as those in Presidential Family, also suggest an element of political satire, perhaps hinting at the subjects' inflated sense of their own importance. His other paintings from the period include bordello scenes and nudes, which possess comic qualities that challenge and satirize sexual mores, and portraits of families, which possess a gentle, affectionate quality.

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