Botero, Fernando (1932–)

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Botero, Fernando (1932–)

Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist. Born in Medellín on April 19, 1932, Botero began his career as a writer and illustrator for the Sunday literary supplement of El Colombiano, a Medellín newspaper, where his articles on Picasso and Dalí resulted in his expulsion from Jesuit secondary school. He moved to Bogotá in 1951, when he had had his first one-man show. The following year he went to Madrid, where he enrolled in the Real Academia de San Fernando and studied the works of Goya and Velazquez in the Prado. He then went to study art history and fresco painting at the Academia San Marco in Florence. In 1955 he returned to Bogotá, and exhibited at the Biblioteca Nacional. His work was not well received, however, and he moved to Mexico City the following year. From 1958 to 1960 he taught at the Escuela de Bellas Artes at the National University in Bogotá. Botero received the award for the Colombian section of the Guggenheim international exhibition in 1960. That same year he moved to New York, where he lived until 1973. In 1961 the Museum of Modern Art of New York acquired his painting Mona Lisa at Age 12. This period reflects his fascination with the Renaissance masters.

In 1973 Botero moved to Paris. Although his subject matter continued to center on small-town Colombia, as evidenced by satirical images of clerics, military men, politicians, and marginals, Botero soon turned to sculpting the images and figures that appeared in his paintings. He had retrospective exhibitions in Germany (1970), Colombia (1973), the Netherlands (1975), the United States (1979–1980), and Germany (1979–1980). After his retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas in 1976, the Venezuelan government awarded him the Order Andrés Bello, reserved for outstanding figures in Latin American culture. The department of Antioquia honored him with the Cruz de Boyaca for services to his nation. Botero's work has appeared at exhibitions at the Bronx Museum (New York, 1988) and at the Indianapolis Museum, the Hayward Gallery (London), and Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), all in 1989.

Botero's popularity continued to grow. In 1992 a painting of a brothel scene was sold at auction for $1.5 million. In the fall of 1993, Botero's work was at the center of a controversy in New York City, when some Park Avenue residents opposed an outdoor public exhibition of his sculptures, fearing it would draw disruptive crowds to their neighborhood. In 1994 Christie's auction house staged a special sale of eleven Botero paintings, only to find that the work featured on the cover of the catalog was in fact a forgery. A collection featuring works he owned as well as 123 of his own works is on permanent display at the Museo Botero, a Spanish colonial-style house in downtown Bogotá.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Eduardo Serrano, Cien años de arte colombiano (1985).

Edward J. Sullivan, Ferdinand Botero (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Botero, Fernando. Botero. Edited by José Maria Faerna. Translated by Alberto Curotto. New York: Cameo/Abrams, 1997.

Botero, Fernando. Fernando Botero: Paintings and Drawings. Edited by Werner Spies. Munich and New York: Prestel, 1997.

Botero, Fernando, and Carlos Fuentes. Botero: Women. New York: Rizzoli International, 2003.

Lodoño Vélez, Santiago. Botero: La invención de una estética. Bogotá: Villegas Editores, 2003.

Sillevis, John. The Baroque World of Fernando Botero. Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2006.

                                  BÉlgica RodrÍguez