Fernando Botero, the celebrated Colombian artist known for his distinctive sculptures and paintings featuring corpulent figures, has passed away at the age of 91. His death marks the end of a remarkable career that left an indelible mark on the art world.
Botero’s artistic style was characterised by his penchant for exaggerating the size of his subjects, creating larger-than-life figures and animals.
This unique approach often injected humour and parody into his works. Perhaps one of his most famous pieces is his rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with an enlarged, puffed-up face.
Born in 1932, Botero’s journey to becoming a renowned artist began in his 20s when he travelled to Europe, immersing himself in classical art before eventually relocating to the United States in 1960.
It was during this period that he discovered a new dimension in art—one that was more voluminous, extravagant, and extreme. This discovery led him to develop his iconic style.
While Botero was celebrated for his lighthearted and playful approach, he also used his art to explore serious subjects, including politics. Some of his works depicted Colombian guerrilla fighters and the aftermath of earthquakes.
However, he was not without controversy. His painting of the death of infamous drug cartel boss Pablo Escobar initially portrayed him heroically dodging bullets but was later altered under pressure to depict the drug lord’s lifeless body.
One of his most striking and politically charged works was a series of large portraits depicting the torture of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by U.S. Army personnel. These pieces stirred significant controversy and were exhibited near the White House in Washington.
Throughout his prolific career, Botero maintained studios in various global cities, including Paris, New York, Mexico, Colombia, and Italy. His artworks became highly sought after, with individual pieces fetching prices exceeding $2 million at auction.
Fernando Botero’s legacy extends far beyond his unique artistic style. He leaves behind a body of work that challenged conventions, provoked thought, and delighted audiences around the world, solidifying his place as one of the greatest Colombian artists in history.
His hometown, Medellín, has declared a week of mourning in his honour, recognising his immense contribution to the world of art.