Fernando Botero, biography of the Colombian artist

Learn about the artistic production of Fernando Botero, who is he, and his contribution to the history of Colombian and universal art.

Fernando Botero, biography of the Colombian artist
Colombian figurative artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. Image: Dca.gob.gt

When observing a work of art, we can identify the style of the painter, and we can ensure the authorship of his work. These artists are those who have achieved their style like Van Gogh, Picasso. This is also the case of Fernando Botero, painter, sculptor, philanthropist, and the most internationally recognized Colombian artist. His unmistakable style has been called Boterismo. Botero was born in 1932 in Medellín, Colombia. At the age of 12, he received bullfighting lessons, and his first work is a watercolor of a bullfighter probably for this reason.

"Bullfighting makes life easy for the painter because it is an activity that already has a lot of color in itself. The matador's suit of lights, the arena, the barrier, the public... It's a wonderful subject, it gives poetry to the painting," said the artist. In 1948, he exhibited his works for the first time in Medellín and made illustrations in a local newspaper to pay for his studies. He was expelled from school because his works were considered obscene and finished his studies at the Lyceum of the University of Antioquia.

Botero works

In 1951, he moved to Bogotá and began to make contact with different prominent Colombian intellectuals. He won the 2nd prize in the IX National Salon of artists with his work "In front of the sea". Taking advantage of the money received for this award and after the sale of some of his works, Botero traveled to Europe. He enrolled in the San Fernando Art Academy in Madrid. During this period he painted, drew, and sold his works around the Prado Museum.

In 1953, Botero traveled to Florence, where he studied at the Academy of San Marco, soaking in the Italian Renaissance. He was particularly interested in Piero della Francesca and Titian. After his stay in Italy, he returned to Colombia and in 1955 he held an exhibition in Bogotá with little success. In 1956, he traveled to Mexico and the USA with his new wife. In the U.S., Fernando Botero began to play with the volume of the bodies in his paintings. A special characteristic of his style. A year later. in 1957, he exhibited with great success in New York.

Fernando Botero, Miracle of the girl devoured by a hummingbird, 1960, Oil on canvas.
What did Fernando Botero paint before creating his most recognized works? Figures, landscapes, objects, and characters, as well as illustrations for various publications, are made with agile, expressive strokes and where his figures are thin and stylized. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art of Barranquilla.


The most peculiar feature of his creative personality, which makes his paintings easily recognizable, is his particular conception and expression of volumes. Botero makes the protagonists of his canvases suffer an enlargement that is measured for the reduced pictorial space in which they inhabit. The deformed image, which takes his painting to the realm of the grotesque, is the component of critical humor expressed in his canvases. Combining gigantism and humor, his overfed monsters, with swollen bellies and rigid attitudes, are a sarcastic criticism of today's society. Such a painting of the "ugly" is combined with great technical virtuosity, perceiving in the background the paintings of Velázquez and Goya.

Success in NYC called for more success. In 1958, Fernando Botero was appointed professor of Fine Arts at the National University of Colombia. Also, he won 2nd prize at the Colombian Artists Salon. In 1975, he began working in sculpture and the Colombian Museum of Antioquia dedicated a room to him. Several examples can be seen at Plaza Botero.

Fernando Botero Mona Lisa

On the day of his inaugural exhibition in Washington, he sold all his works. He returned to NYC to settle down and managed to sell "The Mona Lisa at Twelve" to MoMA, which implied economic stability and prestige. His exhibitions were being shown all over the world at that time and success and recognition would not leave him.

In 1983, he settled with his third wife in Italy, in the town of Pietrasanta. The latter is known for its foundry, which was essential for his sculptures. His great works have been seen in the main avenues and squares of the world, giving him, in addition to artistic recognition, great popularity.

Fernando Botero has never been far from the social concerns of his time.
The painting by Fernando Botero was inspired by the theme of violence in Colombia. Image: Bellasartes.gob.ar

In recent years, Botero's works, especially his paintings, have touched on the burning political and social realities of his native Colombia. The burning issues of the political and social realities. His works are considered by critics as a great tribute to the famous Colombian craftsmen. They represent a source of joy and vision to his countrymen. For example, 78 paintings of the "Abu Gharib" series. He denounces the abuses that took place in the prison of the same name in Iraq, during the recent war.

In 2004, Botero turned openly political. He exhibited a series of drawings and paintings that referenced the violence in Colombia stemming from the activities of the drug cartels.  As the famous "La muerte de Pablo Escobar" ("The Death of Pablo Escobar") and Pablo Escobar Muerto" ("Pablo Escobar Dead").

The Botero Museum was founded thanks to a donation from the artist Fernando Botero.
The permanent exhibition of the Botero Museum is made up of 208 works, 123 of the master Fernando Botero's own authorship.

Museo Botero Bogotá (Botero Museum)

The Botero Museum has one of the most important collections of international art to be found in Latin America. After the donation made by Fernando Botero to Banco de la República, the public can enjoy permanent access to this exhibition. It is made up of 208 works, 123 of his own and 85 by outstanding international artists.

Plaza Botero (Botero Square)

Plaza Botero is located in front of the Museum of Antioquia, with which it has a historical relationship. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Medellín. It has an extension of 7500 m2. Botero Square contains the largest exhibition of outdoor sculptures in the world of the Antioquia artist Fernando Botero. There are 23 monumental works donated by the Colombian artist. Plaza Botero is one of the main references of the city of Medellín and an icon of artistic expression.

Plaza Botero is located in the center of the city, right next to Plaza Berrìo.
The location of Plaza Botero near Berrío Park, the Museum of Antioquia, the Palace of Culture, and the Nutibara Hotel, make it the epicenter of art and culture in Medellín. Image: Flickr