Fernando Botero was born in Colombia in 1932 in a town called Medellín, located in the heart of the Andes Mountains. From Colombia, Botero would travel to Spain and France before settling down in Florence where he would repeatedly revisit the Italian Quattrocentro masters, discovering techniques from a bygone era.
Botero studied art history and was able to use contemporary elements and themes from his everyday existence to invent a truly innovative dimension. In Botero’s characters, whether they are bronze sculptures, painted on canvas, or drawn onto paper, he has created a distinctive world all his own. His imagined world is peopled with various characters from Medellín like bullfighters, prostitutes and street musicians, all in a sensual ambiance filled with joy and color. The overwhelming “roundness” of Botero’s work has become a legend in art history. He is a painter and sculptor who scoffs at new trends affecting the art world.
Botero first achieved international fame on the Champs-Elysées in Paris where he had a major, outdoor retrospective of some of his larger works. It proved to be a huge success and garnered him international press and patronage. His paintings, which boast a limited palette of ochre, cobalt and Prussian blue, are rare commodities sought after by avid art collectors. Botero has gained even more international prestige and fame with his sculptural work. His sculptures feature his signature corpulent men and women.
The rotund figures demonstrate Botero’s ability to portray individuals or stereotypes of Medellín characters he may have known in his life, but also universalize the figures in the sculptures so that anyone can identify them and see their gracefulness. They portray a rare irony, because the rounded stomachs and undefined arms and legs are hardly the first things associated with grace, yet the paintings or sculptures, as seen by the viewer, are striking and elegant. There is something inviting and enchanting about these figures. The women are feminine and the viewer is able to identify with the beauty of the female body, even in the unconventional and stout Botero portrayal.