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Botero Fernando                                                                                          Italian version

 The artist was born in the town of Medellin in the Colombian Andes on April 19th 1932.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Autoritratto con modella" Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Nudo" 1979, olio su tela, collezione privata. Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Paesaggio" 2000, olio su tela, 164x205 cm.



At the age of twelve his uncle, a bull-fighting enthusiast, enrolled him in a school for bullfighters, which he frequented for two years. His favourite subjects in his first drawings are all inspired by the world of bullfights. In fact his first known work is a water colour of a bullfighter. In 1948 he exhibited for the first time in his native town and started to work at the leading newspaper of Medellin, “El Colombiano” making the drawings for the Sunday supplements.

First Influences
Later he moved to Bogotà, where he became acquainted with some members of the Colombian cultural avant-garde, like the writer Jorge Zalamea, a good friend of Garcia Lorca. During these years he was greatly influenced by the work of artists of the Mexican muralist school, such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Sigueiros and Josè Clemente Orozco, and his large water paintings date to this period, such as The Crying Woman (Donna che piange) (1949) which shows in particular the influence of Orozco.

First journeys
With his painting of 1952, “On the coast” (Sulla Costa) he was voted second in the IX Exhibition of Colombian artists organised by the Bogotà National Library. With the 7,000 pesos he received he left for Europe. His first stop was Spain. In Madrid he enrolled at the San Ferdinando Academy where he was able to work in close contact with the masterpieces exhibited in the Prado. His main cultural points of reference during this period were Goya, Vélasquez, Titian and Tintoretto. He implemented his earnings making copies of famous pictures of the Prado. After remaining a year in Madrid he moved on to Paris, where he took a small apartment on the Place des Vosges. He was sorely deluded by the French avant-garde and spent most of his time in the Louvre studying the old masters.

Italian Renaissance
From 1953 to 1954 Botero stayed in Italy, frequenting the San Marco Academy in Florence. He copied many of the works of Giotto and Andrea del Castagno. By day he studied the techniques of the ”fresco” painters and in the evenings worked on oil paintings in his studio in via Panicale, which had previously belonged to Giovanni Fattori. His passion for the Italian Renaissance was further stimulated by the lessons of Roberto Longhi. He travelled a lot in Tuscany; he went to Arezzo to see the works of Piero della Francesca, then went to Siena. He also visited other Italian artistic centres including Venice and Ravenna.

Harsh criticism

In March 1955 he returned to Bogotà with his new works painted during his stay in Italy and exhibited them two months later in the rooms of the National Library. The exhibition received harsh criticism, which at that time was very sensitive to the artistic tendencies predominating in the Parisian galleries and criticised very severely.

Big changes
Botero married in 1955. At the beginning of 1956 the couple went to Mexico City, where their first son, Fernando, was born. During this period Botero discovered for the first time the possibilities to expand and dilate the volume of forms in his own way.

Abstract Expressionism
In 1957 he held his first personal exhibition in the United States, in Washington. He visited the New York museums and discovered abstract expressionism. In May he returned to Bogotà and was voted second at the X Colombian Exhibition.

Nomination as Professor
In 1958 his daughter Lina was born. At the age of twenty-six Botero received the nomination of Professor of Painting at the Bogotà Art Academy and he held this office until 1960. By this time he was becoming known as one of the most promising artists of the country. He designed some of the illustrations for “La siesta del Martes” by Garcia Marquez, which were also published by “El Tiempo” the most important Colombian daily newspaper. He then won the first place at the XI Colombian Exhibition with his work “the bride’s chamber” (La Camera degli Sposi) in homage to Mantegna, a free interpretation of the famous frescoes of the Duke’s Palace in Mantua . He gained considerable success with his personal exhibition organised in October of the same year at the Gres Gallery in Washington: practically all his works were sold on the same day as the inauguration.

In 1950 he presented “The triumph of Ramón Hoyos” (L’Apoteosi di Ramón Hoyos”) at the Colombian Salon. His admiration for Velàzquez was at its peak at this time: in fact, Botero designed more than ten versions of the “Niño de Vallecas” where the technique, characterised by incisive and monochromatic paintbrush strokes, is influenced by abstract expressionism. He was awarded a Guggenheim award and participated, together with Enrique Grau, Alkejandro Obregon and Eduardo Ramirez Villamizare at the V São Paulo Biennial Exhibition to represent his country.

New York
In 1960, in Bogotà, his second son, Juan Carlos was born and Botero was nominated as representative for Colombia at the II Mexico Biennial Exhibition. This decision created violent opposition, against which the artist and many of his friends forcefully protested. For the third time, with very little money, he left his country and went to live in New York, where he leased a loft in Greenwich Village. The Gres Gallery, which up to that time had helped and sustained him, closed down. Botero and his wife divorced. In 1961 the Museum of Modern Art in New York, upon the initiative of the administrator Dorothy C. Miller purchased “Monna Lisa at the age of twelve” (Monna Lisa all’età di dodici anni), but his first New York exhibition at the Contemporaries Gallery was severely criticised.

Plastic style
In 1963 he moved to the East side. In 1964 he married Cecilia Zambrano and a few months later received the second place award of the young artists I Intercol Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotà . He built a house on Long Island and rented a new studio on the 14th Avenue in New York. In many of Botero’s works of this period the plastic style begins to emerge, characterised by subdued and delicate colours. He became fascinated by the art of Rubens and made several paintings inspired by the great Flemish master. January 1966 he held his first important personal European exhibition in Baden-Baden, Germany. Also the exhibition organised the same year at the Milwaukee Art Center was successful and the “Time” magazine published a very favourable report.

From 1967 to 1970 Botero travelled frequently between Colombia, New York and Europe. He visited Italy and Germany where he became fascinated by the art of Dürer. This gave birth to the “Dureroboteros”, a series of big charcoal drawings, paraphrasing famous paintings of the German artist. At the same time he was attracted by Manet and Bonnard, and realised works in which he personally interpreted the stylistic features of these modern artists. March 1969 he exhibited at the Center for Inter-American Relations in New York. In September his first personal exhibition in Paris was held at the Gallerie Claude Bernard. In 1970 his third son, Pedro, was born in New York. In Germany in March a travelling exhibition with over eighty works was shown in five museums.

Continual movement
From 1971 to 1975 Botero rented an apartment on the boulevard de Paris on the Ile de la Cité and divided his time between Paris, Bogotà and his new studio in New York on the 5th Avenue. February 1972 his first exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in New York was held. He then bought a house in Cajica, north of Bogotà where he always passes one month a year. In 1973, after thirteen years, he left New York and moved to Paris. He then started to make his first sculptures. In 1973 he arranged his anthological exhibition in Bogotà, including works ranging from 1948 to 1972.

Tragic death of his son
His son Pedro, aged four, died in a road accident in Spain. Botero himself remained injured. Following this tragedy many of his works are dedicated to the memory and image of his son. In 1975 he and his wife Cecilia Zambrano separated.

After the important retrospective exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Modern Art Museum) in Caracas, he received the “Andrés Bello” decoration from the President of Venezuela . He exhibited again at the Galerie Bernard in Paris, but in these years Botero dedicated most of his time to sculpture. Twenty-five works were accomplished, with many different themes: large torsos, animals and huge objects. In 1977 he received the Croce di Boyacá from the the Antioquia Goverment for his services to Colombia. The same year a room was dedicated to his son Pedro in the Museum of Antioquia, where the sixteen works donated by the artist are arranged. In October his sculptures were shown for the first time in Paris. A year later he returned to painting and moved his Paris studio to rue du Dragon, close to the old Académie Julian. With his third wife Sophia Vari he began to pass some months each year at Pietrasanta.

Important exhibitions
From 1979 to 1983 important retrospective travelling exhibitions were arranged in several museums in Belgium, Norway, and Sweden. In the United States his first American anthological exhibition took place at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.

In 1981 important exhibitions were also organised in Japanese museums, in Tokyo and Osaka.

In 1983 the Metropolitan Museum purchased “Dance in Colombia” (Danza in Colombia) and Botero illustrated the “Crónica de una muerte anunciada” by Garcia Márquez for the first issue of “Vanity Fair”. In the same year he moved to Pietrasanta in Tuscany, famous for its marble quarries, and began to pass some moths a year there working on his sculptures.

In 1984 he donated some of his sculptures to the Museo di Antioquia in Medellin, where a room has been dedicated to him, and another eighteen paintings to the Museo Nacional in Bogotà. During this period his works are dedicated almost entirely to the theme of bullfighting. In April 1985 twenty-five paintings of various stages of the bull fight were shown for the first time at the Marlborough Gallery in New York. In January 1986 exhibitions were held in Caracas, Brema and Frankfurt.

Other important exhibitions
1987: a big retrospective exhibition organised at the Arte Reina Sofia Centre in Madrid was followed by a travelling thematic exhibition entitled Bullfights. This was first shown at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, then in Naples, Palermo, Coro (Venezuela) and Caracas.

1990: an important anthological exhibition at the Fondation Gianadda in Martigny , and at the Marlborough Gallery in New York, an exhibition of his most recent sculptures.

1991: exhibitions in Brusberg Galerie, Berlin, Forte di Belvedere, Florence, Marlborough Gallery, Tokyo, and Kunsthaus in Vienna; an important retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome with works dating from 1949 to his most recent works.

1992: his enormous sculptures on the Champs-Elysées, Paris and the Bullfight series at the Grand Palais. The following year a travelling exhibition exhibiting at Avignone, then the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Ermitage in S. Petersburg.

1994: a big exhibition of the monumental sculptures in public spaces in the leading European cities. In the same year an exhibition of monumental sculptures in Chicago and Madrid, and an anthological exhibition in Buenos Aires.

1995: a series of pastel drawings at the Galleria Didier Imbert, Paris

1996: an exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery, New York of his most recent oil paintings.

1997-1998: important exhibitions at the Museo Nazionale di belle Arti in Santiago, Chile and the Modern Art Museum in Lugano, as well as exhibitions at the Gabbiano Gallery in Rome, the Thomas Gallery in Munich and the Mario Sequeira Gallery in Lisbon as well as anthological exhibitions in museums in San Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Monterrey.

1999: An exhibition of his monumental sculptures in the Piazza della Signoria and the Piazzale degli Uffizi in Florence and paintings and smaller sculptures in the Armoury Room of Palazzo Vecchio (Florence).

Botero’s philosophy
For Botero painting is an interior need, but also a continual experience toward that ideal picture that will never be reached.

The delicate colours, never exalted, never feverish, built up by improvising and reactions, where there are no shadows because, in his opinion, they would taint the idea of colour that he wants to transmit.

To break the monotony of the tones different items used by him appear and disappear : light bulbs, cigarette stubs, flies, all this is indispensable and it is all continually changed while he is creating.

To fill the wide fields of colour, the artist dilates the forms, and the people and the landscapes acquire unusual dimensions, apparently unreal, where detail becomes the major expression and large volumes remain undisturbed.

Since the artist remains detached from the condition of humanity, Botero’s characters become prototypes without any moral or psychological dimension, without a soul.

They feel no joy, nor pain, they look with a vacuous or squinted gaze, they do not bat an eyelid, they look without seeing.

With this emotional detachment his painting acquires the dignity and tranquillity of great classicism.

Botero believes that success depends on the fact that: ” It is necessary to describe something that is strictly local, very circumscribed , something with which everyone is very familiar so as to be understood by everybody. I have convinced myself that I must be parochial, in the sense of being profoundly, religiously bound to my reality, in order to be universal”.


Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Dopo Piero della Francesca" olio su tela.        Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Donna nel bagno" 2000, olio su tela  27 x 36,5 cm.



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Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "I Musicisti" 1979, olio su tela, Monterrey, Messico, collezione privata.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "La Principessa Margaret" da Velàzquez, 1977, olio su tela, collezione privata.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Buongiorno Signor Botero" 1972, olio su tela, collezione privata.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Il club del giardinaggio" 1997, olio su tela 191 x 181 cm.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Picnic" 2001, olio su tela.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Uomo con cane" olio su tela.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "La spiaggia" olio su tela 196x152 cm.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Natura morta con anguria" olio su tela.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Musicisti" olio su tela.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Famiglia e domestica" olio su tela.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Stanza da bagno" olio su tela.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "L'ambasciatore inglese" 1987, olio su tela, 207x138 cm.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Il patio" 1999, olio su tela, 43,8x31,3 cm.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Il nunzio" 2004, olio su tela, cm. 203 x 160.

Artinvest2000: Botero Fernando "Donna di profilo" 2004, olio su tela 76x59 cm.