Arts & Entertainment

Fernando Botero, the Colombian artist of voluptuous figures, dies at 91

Bogotá, Sept 15 (EFE).- Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, the most famous Colombian artist known for his sculptures of voluptuous figures, died Friday at the age of 91, his family announced.

The artist, was born in Medellín on April 19, 1932 and was still painting in his studio. However, he had been recently hospitalized for pneumonia but left the hospital on Thursday to recover at home.

His daughter, Lina Botero, told Caracol Radio that he died Friday morning in Monaco.

“He died at the age of 91, he had an extraordinary life and he left at the right time,” she said, while remembering him as a person “who dedicated his life to his country, which was the subject of his artistic work.”

The painter studied first in Colombia and later at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, and began exhibiting in the United States in the 1960s with a show at the Milwaukee Art Center, where he first showed his characteristic style.

“He doesn’t like the word ‘fat’ at all, he would banish it; he’s a painter of volumes,” said Marisa Oropesa, curator of “Botero: Sensuality and Melancholy,” which opened in March in Valencia, Spain.

BOTERO AROUND THE WORLD

Botero left behind an extensive oeuvre, from his characteristic and peculiar Mona Lisa to the dancing couples with thick forms.

His works are scattered in dozens of cities around the world, through his sculptures that adorn the corners of the main streets of numerous cities, but above all his native Medellín, to which he donated dozens of works.

The milestone that marked his universality occurred in 2015 and 2016, when he held his first comprehensive and retrospective exhibition in places such as the National Museum of China in Beijing, located in Tiananmen Square, and the China Art Museum in Shanghai.

Aware of the importance of his work, Botero donated much of his work to his native country, and his pieces are distributed among the Botero Museum (Bogotá), Plaza Botero (Medellín), Plaza Santo Domingo (Cartagena), and the Casa de Nariño, Colombia’s presidential palace, where the sculpture “The Dove of Peace” and the monumental painting “The Nun” rest.

“Fernando Botero has died, the painter of our traditions and faults, the painter of our virtues. The painter of our violence and our peace. Of the dove discarded a thousand times and placed on its throne a thousand times,” said today in his condolences the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, alluding to the dove exhibited in the presidential headquarters that the artist gave to commemorate the agreement with the FARC in 2016.

The Botero Museum in Bogotá, houses the most complete collection, created in 1998 with the donation he made to the Banco de la República of 123 of his own works and 87 by international artists.

Botero has received numerous international awards, the most important being the Guggenheim International Award in 1957, which earned him an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and made him an international name.

Another milestone in his career was in 1961, when the MoMa in New York acquired “The Twelve-Year-Old Mona Lisa”.

His awards include the Order of Andrés Bello (1976), the Silver Cross of the Order of Boyacá (1977), the French Legion of Honor (2002), the Américas Prize (2002), the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel la Católica (2007), and the title of Honorary Ambassador of Colombia to UNESCO.

In 1969 he had his first major exhibition at the Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris and in 1972 at the Marlborough Gallery in New York. The following year he moved to Paris, where he made his first sculptures, which he exhibited for the first time at the Art Fair in the French capital.

In April 2022, his native Medellín celebrated his 90th birthday in style, as a gesture of gratitude for illuminating with his works a city plunged into darkness by the violence of the drug trade.

“Master Fernando Botero was not only vital for Medellín, a son of this land, but he was also a manager and a visionary,” the director of the Museum of Antioquia, María del Rosario Escobar, told EFE on the occasion, adding that “we owe him the best face of Colombia.”

His works have been featured in million-dollar auctions, such as in 2022, when the sculpture “Man on Horseback” fetched $ 4.3 million at Christie’s. EFE

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