Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists. Fortunately, we were able to take some time on our tour to explore his museum in Bogotá—Museo Botero.
Botero is known to paint individuals in a larger manner. He has explained that he paints voluminous people, not fat people. Specifically, he zooms in on their skin and not their facial features. He also doesn’t use models which is why so many of the people in his paintings look similar. One such painting that shows this is his version of the Mona Lisa, which is bigger in size and situated in front of the Andes.
One of the paintings pictured below shows a group of men, with only one of the men sleeping comfortably. This is because he is wearing a watch and to Botero, being in control of time represents power. If you notice, watches can be found in many of his paintings.
Fernando Botero donated much of his artwork to this museum, but had three conditions for doing so. The museum had to be free for everyone to enjoy, he wanted to display the artwork in the museum himself and place everything according to his personal preference, and the last condition was that the paintings could never leave this museum. With the conditions having been met, Botero donated 123 of his own paintings and other paintings that he possessed including many of Picasso’s pieces. In fact, Botero first started by painting artists whom he admired such as Picasso. Shortly thereafter, when Botero began painting other pieces, he painted a person with a guitar that had a smaller sized hole, but instead of calling this a mistake, he decided this would later become his style.
In the late 1970’s, Botero was driving with his son and second wife in Spain when they were involved in a terrible car accident. Botero’s son, Pedro, who was only a child, died in the accident. As a resulting injury of the accident, part of Botero’s finger was cut off. He later traveled to Italy and paid close attention to the sculptures throughout the country. Botero began sculpting because not only was it difficult to paint for some time after his accident, but because he was passionate about volume and knew that sculpting was a great way to give volume to his work. In addition to some of the various sculptures pictured below, you will notice a sculpture of a large hand, which is actually a sculpture of Botero’s hand.
Fernano Botero is the only living artist to sell a painting for over a million dollars, and his work is both enjoyed and celebrated throughout the world.