Fernando Botero 1932 —

Biography

"I try to create sensuousness thru form”

-Fernando Botero

Botero’s monumental sculptures have lined Park Avenue, graced Berlin’s Lustgarten, been exhibited in San Antonio, paraded on the Champs Elysses, graced the streets of Sevilla and delight vacationers at the Grand Wailea resort in Hawaii – Botero is magnifique!   Both as  sculptor and painter, Botero’s brilliant colors and massive forms make you stand up and take notice immediately. 

 From an improbable, beginning one of the world’s most arresting and talked about artists rose to great prominence.   Fernando Botero was born in Medellin, the industrial and commercial center of Columbia; a small provincial city high in the Andes mountains. His father, who died when Fernando was four, was a salesman who traveled on horseback into the mountains to work. Botero had an uncle who sent him to a school for matadors.  As an adolescent he discovered "Esquire Magazine" and the Vargas girls and decided that he was going to be an artist, even though that meant that he would always be poor – or so it seemed then. He was expelled from his Jesuit high school for his "irreligious" ideas after he wrote an article on Picasso and Cubist fragmentation. He was sent to a government school in Marinilla, a small nearby town, to finish his schooling.  After finishing high school in 1951, Botero moved to Bogota.   Only then was Botero allowed to travel beyond Columbia’s borders.

Botero then travelled to the great art ‘capitals’ in Europe; Madrid for a year, then a year in Paris, then two years in Florence. During his twenties, Botero continued to move frequently, returning to Columbia in 1955.  Today, Botero has several homes; Pietrasanta, Mexico City, New York… Bogata.  In Bogota he has taken on celebrity status.  He is a national hero, mobbed at the airport by fans wanting autographs.

 Among Botero’s earliest works were Still Life paintings.  It was with still life painting that Botero launched his own particular style of inflated volumes, and it is precisely in this genre, that the underlying principle of distortion is most readily seen. It is a slight detail—such as the tiny bite mark on a pear, or the minuscule sound hole at an instrument's center—that acts as a catalyst in the process of proportional modification, and the ensuing alteration of the composition's very meaning.  Botero says, “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why.  You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”  He is an abstract artist in the most fundamental sense of the word, choosing what colors, shapes, and proportions to use based on intuitive fundamental aesthetic thinking.”  This being said, his works are informed by a Colombian upbringing void of traditional art venues.  Social commentary is woven all throughout his work.

The turning point in Botero's career came in 1961 when Dorothy Miller, then curator of museum collections at The Museum of Modern Art in New York bought his Mona Lisa, Age Tkvelve.  The wide-ranging retrospective of his work, held at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., in 1979, was the first in a series of similar shows. Subsequent exhibitions were held in Chicago, New York, and Madrid. Neither the fame nor the high prices fetched by his works has changed Botero's nomadic habits. To this day, the artist continues to divide his time between Colombia, New York, Paris, and Pietrasanta.

For the most part, Botero's forays into portraiture have taken the form of self-portraits, in which he subjects his own figure to the same deforming logic that he applies to all others. He does so with a good amount of humor, especially when echoing such illustrious antecedents as Rembrandt or de Chirico. He portrays himself disguised as some of the most diverse characters—projections, perhaps, of his unfulfilled desires—ranging from Spanish conquistador to gallant bullfighter. In some instances, the Colombian artist portrays himself as a tiny figure, somewhere between the medieval representation of the donor, and the self-portraits of Velazquez depicted alongside his eminent models. In other instances, however, Botero's presence is rendered almost imperceptible, as his distinctive visage timidly emerges from some minuscule cameo.

More important than his subject matter, is the means he uses to depict the subject which you see clearly in his paintings.  Expressionism interested him, he sought his primary inspiration from the Italian creating volume in his paintings by expanding the figures and compressing the space around them, a quality which he continues to explore whether painting imaginary group portraits or parodies on the work of famous masters.

One of the most distinctive chapters in Botero's career is the one comprising his renderings of celebrated paintings from the history of art. Like a legion of painters before him, and certainly   Picasso Bacon, Lichtenstein and Johns, the Colombian painter borrows motifs from a shared cultural heritage. Botero's intention, however, is not to copy Leonardo, Caravaggio, or Mantegna, since his pictures are free interpretations retaining only the subject matter of the originals. By stripping the motifs of all their stylistic traits he converts them into genuine Boteros. Although a certain touch of irony infiltrates these works, whether paintings by Velazquez at the Prado, or   fresco masters in Florence, the artist's goal is not to create caricatures. Rather, they are his attempts to distill the true essences of paintings while conforming to the formal aspects of his particular style.  

First a painter, Botero began to produce sculpture in the 70’s.  His work in a three dimensional art was a natural progression for an artist singularly dedicated to expressing volume and mass. Columbian artist Fernando Botero’s unique style is recognized and renowned world-wide for the voluminous forms and sensuous figures found within his paintings, sculpture and works on paper.  The monumentality of his images has made his work instantly recognizable.  “I studied the art of Giotto and all other Italian Masters, I was fascinated by their sense of volume and monumentality, of course in modern art everything is exaggerated – so my voluminous figures also became exaggerated.”

Most recently (2007-2011) the major Botero exhibition “The Baroque Works of Ferdando Botero” has been travelling to museums world wide.  100 of his paintings, sculptures, and drawings, the first retrospective exhibition in the United States of Botero's work since 1978, and selected by Dr. John Sillevis, Curator of the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. Presented will be the best works from the several stages in his development as an artist. The exhibition follows Botero in his extensive studies of the history of European art, which he pursued in art museums across the continent. Another important theme illustrated in the exhibition is the glory and misery of contemporary life in Latin America. The show opened at Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (Canada) ;

An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs  by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.

To bookmark Janet Lehr Fine Arts Gallery website: http://www.janetlehrfinearts.com

View synoptic biography below.

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EXHIBITIONS

2012-2013
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, NY (solo)
Inaurgural Exhibition: Fernando Botero, David Benrimon Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Latinas!, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY

2009
Gary Nader Fine Art, Coral Gables, FL
Fernando Botero: The Circus. James Goodman Gallery, New York, NY
El Dolor de Colombia, Pinacoteca Diego Rivero, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico

2008
The Baroque World of Fernando Botero, Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE

2007-2008
Botero: Oeuvres récentes, Marlborough Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco (solo)

2007
Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib, University of California, Berkeley, CA (solo)
The Baroque World of Fernando Botero, Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Canada (solo)
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE (solo)
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA (solo)
Summer Exhibition, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY
Latin Masters, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York, NY
Fernando Botero, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld, Germany (solo)
Malerei und Skulptur, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld, Germany

2006
Sculpture, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY
Summer Group Show, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY
Fernando Botero, Athens Concert Hall, Greece (solo)
Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

2005
Landscape, Cityscape, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY
Palazzo Venezia, Rome, Italy

2004
The Art Museum, Singapore

2003
The Doge's Palace and other locations, Venice, Italy
The Gemeente Museum, Aja
The Maillol Museum, Paris, France

2002
Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark

2001
Moderna Musset, Stockholm, Sweden

2000
The Museum of Antioquìa, Medellìn, Colombia

1998-1999
San Paolo Museum of Art, San Paolo, Brazil
The National Museum of Fine Arts, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Monterey Museum of Contemporary Art, Monterey, CA
The Art Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel

1997
The Modern Art Museum of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland
The National Musuum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile

1996
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC
Niigata Prefectoral Modern Art Museum, Niigata, Japan
Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, South Korea
The Sofia Imber Museum of Contemporary Art, Caracas, Venezuela

1994-1995
Museo of Art, Takamatsu City, Japan
Shinjuku Mitsukoshi Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
Iwaki City Art Museum, Iwaki, Japan

1994
Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
The National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Paseo de Recolet, Madrid, Spain
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Paseo de Recoletes, Madrid, Spain
Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL

1992-1993
Montecarlo Kunsthaus, Vienna, Austria
Champs-Elysées, Paris, France
The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

1991
Exhibition Palace, Rome, Italy

1989
The Coro Museum of the Arts, Coro, Venezuela
The Contemporary Museum of Art, Caracas, Venezuela
The Rufino Tamayo Museum, Oaxaca, Mexico

1987
The Queen Sofia Center for the Arts, Madrid, Spain

1986
The Contemporary Art Museum, Caracas, Venezuela
Municipal Art Museum, Niigata, Japan
Museum of Art, Albany, NY

1985
The National Museum, Bogota, Colombia
The Ponce Museum, Puerto Rico

1984
The Munson-Williams-Proctor Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY
The Everhard Museum, Scranton, PA
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

1983
The Veranneman Foundation, Belgium

1981
The Civic Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan

1979
The d'Ixelles Museum, Brussels, Belgium
The Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
The South Texas Museum of Art, Corpus Christi, TX

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
Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY
Buchholz, Munich, Germany
Claude Bernard, Paris, France

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
Botero, Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany
Fernando Botero, Hanover Gallery, London, UK

1969
Fernando Botero, Center for Inter-American Relations, New York, NY
Botero: Peintures, pastels, fusains, Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris, France

1969
Inflated Images, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1968
Botero, Galería Juana Mordó, Madrid, Spain
Botero, Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany

1966
Fernando Botero, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany; Traveled to: Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany, Galerie Brusberg, Hanover, Germany
Fernando Botero: Recent Works, Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, WI

1965
Botero: Recent Works, Zora Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1964
Cordoba Bienale, Argentina
Fernando Botero: Bosquejos realidades, Galería Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia
Fernando Botero: Obras recientes, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia

1962
7 Contemporary Painters, Museum of Modern Art, Bogota
Botero, Gres Gallery, Chicago, IL
Botero, The Contemporaries, New York, NY

1961
Botero, Galería de Arte El Callejón, Bogotá, Colombia

1960
Botero, Gres Gallery, Washington, DC

1959
Botero: Obras recientes, Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia, Sala Gregorio Vásquez, Bogotá, Colombia

1958
Fernando Botero: Oleos, Galería Antonio Souza, Mexico D.F., Mexico
Fernando Botero: Recent Oils, Watercolors, Drawings, Gres Gallery, Washington, DC

1957
Pan American Union, Washington, DC

1955
Biblioteca Nacional, Bogota, Colombia

1951
Leo Matiz Gallery, Bogota, Colombia

 

Botero's work is represented in National and International museum collections throughout the world including:

Arkansas Art Center, Museum of Modern Art NY, Delaware Art Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; Ho-am Museum, Seoul, Süd Korea; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Deutschland; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami; University, University of Rochester Art Museum, Michigan; Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York; Milwaukee Art Museum; Miyagi Museum of Art, Japan; Museo d´Arte Moderna del Vaticano; Museo de Antioquia, Medellín, Kolumbien; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela; Museo Nacional, Bogotá, Kolumbien; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; A Museum Moderne Kunst, Vienna, Österreich; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan; Neue Pinakothek, München, Deutschland; Ponce Museum of Art, Ponce, Puerto Rico; Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russland; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst, München, Deutschland; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russland; Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Köln, Deutschland and Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan.

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