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Fernando Botero

The most famous living Latin American artist, Fernando Botero, is best known for his paintings of very fat subjects. His art is abstract, in that the colors, figures and people depicted are not meant to be a representational likeness of the subject. The obesity of the subjects is designed to mock the bourgeois middle class. In one portrait, a corpulent family of four poses by an apple tree and even the pet monkey is grossly overweight.

Born in MedellĂ­n, Botero had limited exposure to art at an early age, as most commonly accessible art in Colombia at that time was of religious images such as Madonnas and crucifixes. He originally trained as a matador, and bullfights and rings figure prominently in his early works.

In his teens, he went to Spain and Italy where he studied art and art history. He spent a few years in Mexico, where the muralist works of
Diego Rivera and others greatly influenced his work. He moved to the United States in 1960, and has lived in New York and Paris ever since.

In spite of his long absence, his paintings continue to display a distinctive Colombian flavor. Botero is very highly regarded in international art circles, and is becoming well-known outside of Colombia and New York.

In the last few years, his work has become increasingly political. In 2005, he released a series of paintings and sketches concerning the U.S. torture abuse scandal at the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib. He has also tackled issues from his native Colombia, such as a rebel gas cylinder attack that killed 120 people in a church in May 2002.

In 2004, Bogotá welcomed Botero’s donation of his personal collection of work to the city, and these prize pieces are now housed in the Botero Museum and the Museo Nacional de Colombia. His works were given on two conditions; the first, that the museum would be free to the public, the second being that Botero himself was in charge of the arrangement and color scheme of his paintings.

Visitors to Medellín with an interest in Botero’s art should head to the Museo de Antioquia, home to the largest collection of Botero paintings. More Botero sculptures are on public display at the Plaza de las Esculturas and at Parque Berrío, as requested by Botero himself.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Colombia: History of Villavicencio, History, History of El Cocuy, History, The History of ChocĂł, History of Villa de Leyva, Pacific Coast History, History of Buenaventura, History and History of QuibdĂł.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
28 Sep 2011

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