Fernando Botero (born 1932) is perhaps one of Latin America’s best-known living artists. He is internationally renowned for his figurative subjects, which explore the exaggerated and inflated human form. Botero’s sculptures, canvases, and works on paper celebrate voluptuousness, playing with pre-conceived notions of sensuality, fertility, and power. His works tackle many of the major themes and iconic images found in the western tradition of art with a sensitivity that is at once playful and critical. As evidence of his wide reaching impact, many use the term “Boterismo” when describing the influence of his signature full-figured compositions.
Botero was born in Medellín, Colombia, in 1932. He began painting at a young age and it was not long before others recognized his talent. Botero was published as an illustrator at age 17 in El Colombiano, the weekly literary supplement of a daily newspaper.
In 1948 Botero’s artwork was exhibited in a group show in Medellin. In 1951 he moved to Bogotá and encountered a group of avant-garde thinkers. The same year, Botero’s first solo exhibition was held in Bogotá at Galería Leo Matiz. Botero went to Spain with a group of artists and studied in Madrid from 1952 to 1953 at the Academia de San Fernando. He then moved to Paris for a short time, where he was inspired by the masterworks held in the Louvre. Living in Florence from 1953 to 1954, Botero studied Renaissance works by Giotto, Paolo Uccello, and Andrea del Castagno.
In 1955 Botero returned to Colombia and graduated from Medellín University. During a visit to Mexico in 1956, Botero created his first figures with a rotund appearance. Botero won first prize in the National Salon in Bogotá in 1958. His painting was inspired by the frescoes of Mantegna in the Camera degli Sposi in Mantua.
In 1960 Botero moved to New York City. The same year he was awarded the National Prize for Colombia from the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1961 the Museum of Modern Art purchased his Mona Lisa, Age Twelve. During subsequent years, Botero experimented with various styles. Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, Botero’s work evidenced an aggressive handling of paint before settling into his mature style, which eliminated all traces of brushwork.
Botero continued to take inspiration from his Colombian heritage, frequently portraying scenes of middle-class families, military life, exotic still lifes, opulent lifestyles, and small-town culture.
Botero left New York City in 1973 and moved to Paris. There he began sculpting the rotund figures that he had perfected in paintings. In 1993 fourteen bronze sculptures were installed along New York City’s Park Avenue in conjunction with the Public Art Fund in order to bring the city’s residents into contact with the contemporary master.
Botero continues to exhibit throughout the world.
2012/13 – Museo Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain
2012 – Una celebración, Palacio Bellas Artes de México, Mexico
2012 – “Hommage zum 80: Geburtstag, Botero – Gemälde, Skulpturen und Zeichnungen,” Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld, Germany
2010 – “Art is Deformation,” Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York, New York
2009 – “Fernando Botero: The Circus,” James Goodman Gallery, New York, New York
2009 – “El Dolor de Colombia,” Pinacoteca Diego Rivero, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
2008 – “The Baroque World of Fernando Botero,” Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee
2007/08 – “Botero: Oeuvres Récentes,” Marlborough Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco
2007 – “Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib,” University of California, Berkeley, California
2006 – “Fernando Botero,” Athens Concert Hall, Greece
2005 – “Landscape, Cityscape,” Marlborough Gallery, New York, New York
2004 – The Art Museum, Singapore
2003 – The Maillol Museum, Paris, France
2002 – Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
2001 – Moderna Musset, Stockholm, Sweden
2000 – The Museum of Antioquìa, Medellìn, Colombia
1998/99 – San Paolo Museum of Art, San Paolo, Brazil
1998/99 – The National Museum of Fine Arts, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1998/99 – The Art Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
1997 – The Modern Art Museum of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland
1997 – The National Musuum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile
1996 – Niigata Prefectoral Modern Art Museum, Niigata, Japan
1996 – Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, South Korea
1994/95 – Shinjuku Mitsukoshi Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
1994 – Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
1994 – Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
1992/93 – Montecarlo Kunsthaus, Vienna, Austria
1992/93 – The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
1991 – Exhibition Palace, Rome, Italy
1989 – The Coro Museum of the Arts, Coro, Venezuela
1989 – The Rufino Tamayo Museum, Oaxaca, Mexico
1987 – The Queen Sofia Center for the Arts, Madrid, Spain
1986 – Municipal Art Museum, Niigata, Japan
1986 – Museum of Art, Albany, New York
1985 – The Ponce Museum, Puerto Rico
1984 – The Munson-Williams-Proctor Museum of Art, Ithaca, New York
1984 – The Everhard Museum, Scranton, Pennsylvania
1983 – The Veranneman Foundation, Belgium
1981 – The Civic Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
1978/80 – Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1978 – Sculpture Museum of the city of Marl, Marl, Germany
1977 – The Medellìn Museum of Art, Medellìn, Colombia
1976 – The Museum of Comtemporary Art, Caracas, Venezuela
1975 – The Boymans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
1972 – Buchholz, Munich, Germany
1972 – Marlborough Gallery, New York, New York
1970 – “Fernando Botero: Bilder 1962-1969,” Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany; Traveled to: Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany; Stadtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, Germany; Kunstverein, Hamburg, Germany; and Kunsthalle, Bielefeld, Germany
1970 – “Fernando Botero,” Hanover Gallery, London, UK
1969 – “Fernando Botero,” Center for Inter-American Relations, New York, New York
1969 – “Inflated Images,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
1968 – “Botero,” Galería Juana Mordó, Madrid, Spain
1968 – “Botero,” Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany
1966 – Fernando Botero, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany; Traveled to: Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany, Galerie Brusberg, Hanover, Germany
1965 – “Botero: Recent Works,” Zora Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1964 – “Fernando Botero: Bosquejos Realidades,” Galería Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia
1962 – “Botero,” Gres Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1961 – “Botero,” Galería de Arte El Callejón, Bogotá, Colombia
1960 – “Botero,” Gres Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1959 – “Botero: Obras Recientes,” Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia, Sala Gregorio Vásquez, Bogotá, Colombia
1958 – “Fernando Botero: Oleos,” Galería Antonio Souza, Mexico D.F., Mexico
1957 – Pan American Union, Washington, DC
1955 – Biblioteca Nacional, Bogota, Colombia
1951 – Leo Matiz Gallery, Bogota, Colombia
The New York Times – “Art in Review – Larger Than Life” by Benjamin Genocchio
ARTnews – “Botero: You Can’t Be Liked By Everybody” by Milton Esterow
Fox News Latino – “Famed Colombian Artist Fernando Botero Turns 80” by Fox News Latino
BBC News – “Botero’s Big, Fat Art” by Stephen Smith
News Oklahoma – “Museum revisits artist Fernando Botero” by Brandy McDonnell