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Fernando Botero Artist Biography

At first glance, Fernando Botero's paintings seem to be humorous in nature, however, more often than not, his portraits appear to offer bitter social comment with frequent political overtones. As well as his paintings, he has made several public monuments in bronze, notably 'Broadgate Venus' (1990) erected in Exchange Square in London. Fernando Botero was born in1932 in Medellin, Colombia. By the age of 16 he was contributing illustrations to the local newspaper, El Colombiano. Botero's early work was influenced by various styles such as Abstract Expressionism, but it was the Italian Renaissance which provided his primary inspiration. In 1951, he moved to Bogota where he had his first international show at the Leo Matiz Gallery. A year later, he left for Madrid to study fresco technique and art history in Florence.  In 1952, he traveled to Bogotá, where he had a solo exhibit at the Leo Matiz gallery. In 1953, he moved to Paris, where he spent most of his time in the Louvre, studying the works there. He lived in Florence, Italy from 1953 to 1954, studying the works of Renaissance masters. In 1958, he won the ninth edition of the Salón de Artistas Colombianos.

Fernando Botero moved to the United States in 1960, settling in New York where he remained for ten years. During this period, he began to experiment with creating volume in his paintings by expanding the figures and compressing the space around them. While his work includes still-lifes and landscapes - round, bloated humans and animals – Fernando Botero has typically concentrated on his emblematic situational portraiture. One of them, Presidential Family (1967), suggest an element of political satire, and are depicted using flat, bright color and prominently outlined forms. After reaching an international audience with his art, in 1973, he moved to Paris, where he began creating sculptures. These works extended the foundational themes of his painting, as he again focused on his bloated subjects. As his sculpture developed, by the 1990s, outdoor exhibitions of huge bronze figures were staged around the world to great success.

In 2004, Fernando Botero turned to the overtly political, exhibiting a series of drawings and paintings focusing on the violence in Colombia stemming from drug cartel activities. In 2005, he unveiled his "Abu Ghraib" series, based on reports of American military forces abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. The series took him more than 14 months to complete, and received considerable attention when it was first exhibited in Europe. In 2006, after having focused exclusively on the Abu Ghraib series for over 14 months, he returned to the themes of his early life such as the family and maternity. In 2008, he exhibited the works of his The Circus collection, featuring 20 works in oil and watercolor. In a 2010 interview, Fernando Botero said that he was ready for other subjects: "After all this, I always return to the simplest things: still-lifes."

Botero reputation is indisputable, being widely exhibited in Europe and North and South America and having received numerous awards including the First Intercol at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota.

While his work includes still-lifes and landscapes, his paintings and sculptures are united by their proportion exaggerated, or "fat" figures. Fernando Botero explains his use of these "large people", as they are often called by critics, in the following way:

"An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it." Fernando Botero

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