10 things to know about Botero's art
Why is Botero work instantly recognised? The Colombian painter and sculptor turns 89 today and continues to be one of the most sought-after artists in the world. ARTIKA would like to celebrate his birthday and take a look at the traits that make him unique.
1/ Fernando Botero was born on 19 April 1932 in Medellín, Colombia.
He earned his place in the annals of art through a style known as "boterismo", his unmistakable trademark. His work combines volume, colour, irony and sensitivity through a vision that expresses the sensuality of form.
2/ He was kicked out of school because of his drawings.
When he was in secondary school, his teachers told him to stop drawing nude figures. The young Botero's response was to write an article in a local magazine that upset his teachers even more. It was about Picasso and non-conformity in art and led to his expulsion.
Left: El pintor que se comió su modelo, Fernando Botero, 1980
Right: Mujer con lápiz de labios. 2002
3/ He discovered art when he gave up the idea of becoming a bullfighter.
Encouraged by his uncle, at the age of 12 he started taking classes at a bullfighting school in Medellín. There he practised his skill at drawing and painting bulls rather than fighting them. In fact, Botero's first known work is a watercolour of a bullfighter. “It is a marvellous subject; it gives poetry to painting”.
Carnaval (detail), 2016. Oil painting on canvas, 129 x 94 cm
4/ He travelled around Europe to learn from the great masters.
In 1952 he arrived in Madrid and studied the works of masters like Velázquez and Goya. He painted, drew and even sold his art around the Prado Museum. This was a pivotal stage in Botero's training, and he has always considered himself to be self-taught.
5/ His favourite painter is Piero della Francesca.
He travelled to Florence in 1953, where he studied Giotto's fresco painting technique and particularly the technique of Piero della Francesca. The young Botero learned how to use colour to express volume from this artist. It was his first step towards originality.
Left: La Madonna di Senigallia, Piero della Francesca, 1474. Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, en el Palacio Ducal de Urbino (detalle)
Right: Escena familar, 1969. Oil painting on canvas, 211 x 195 cm. (detail)
6/ It all started with a mandolin.
In 1956 he found his personal creative voice while living in Mexico. Drawing the mandolin, he exaggerated the proportion between the small opening and the size of the instrument's body, and his artistic language eventually took shape: “To paint is to create a style; if there is conviction the style comes into being of its own accord”.
Los músicos, 1979. Oil painting on canvas, 217,5 x 190 cm. Particular collection (Detail)
7/ He is a universal artist.
His influences included Mexican muralists like Rivera and the paintings of Picasso, but he has always retained an essence drawn directly from his homeland. “One must be faithful to one's roots; only then can one reach the hearts of everyone in the world”.
8/ “Boterismo” is also engaged art.
Many of his paintings depict festive scenes, but Botero's eye is also critical. In the words of Mario Vargas Llosa: “The world created by Botero does not disguise individual and social suffering, and his art has often borne witness to the injustices and violence that afflict it”.
Masacre en Colombia, 2000. Oil painting on canvas, 129 x 192 cm. Museo de Antioquia. Medellín, Colombia
9/ Drawing is an essential facet of his talent.
Botero's sketches and drawings serve as a way to express his projects and also represent a form of autonomous expression. The works collected in Botero’s Women, an ARTIKA exclusive edition, belong to this creative category. This artist's book pays homage to the female universe through extremely dramatic drawings.
Left: Mujer con sombrero rojo. 1988 | Pencil and watercolor on paper | 47 x 36 cm (detail)
Right: Muchacha con gato. 1990 | Black watercolor and pencil on paper | 41 x 31 cm (detail)
10/ Botero: the modernity of a classic.
His figures are emphatic and enigmatic. They exhibit a monumental character, accentuated by a subtle manipulation of perspective and space, and depict everyday scenes with a touch of magical realism. The result is a catalogue of exuberant works that embrace tradition and occupy a place of their own in the history of art.
Fernando Botero turns 89 today and at ARTIKA we are proud to have collaborated with him on an exclusive creation. Happy birthday, maestro.