Fernando Botero Angulo, often known simply as “Botero” is a Colombian artist known for his exaggeratedly rotund figures and still life subjects.
Botero started his artistic career as an illustrator, before that attending an matador school for two years. He also worked as a set designer.
In 1953 at the age of 21, he moved to Paris. Reportedly, he spent much of his time there in the Louvre, studying in particular the masters of the Baroque period, and becoming fascinated with the work of Rubens. Botero counts Rubens, an artist also known for his filled out figures, as a major influence.
Botero also studied in Madrid and Florence, and spent time in mexico studying the murals of Rivera and Orozco.
Botero’s work has received wide recognition and is popular in many circles.
The distortions evident in his rounded figures are there in his still life paintings as well, which also use exaggerated scale (note the utensils in the still life of the single pear in the image above, middle left).
Botero is also a sculptor (see this gallery on Wikimedia), and his sculptures carry the rounded masses of his figures to monumentality in large scale bronzes.
His subjects can be topical and serious, as in his Abu Ghraib series from 2005; or whimsical and humorous, as in his delightful parodies of works from art history, like his version of Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (image above, middle right, larger here).
One aspect of Botero’s work not evident in reproduction is the scale of his paintings. Many of them are quite large, and the effect of seeing them in person is much more dramatic than seeing them in reproductions.
The Baroque World of Fernando Botero is a traveling exhibition that I caught last year at the Delaware Art Museum. It is currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida until April 4, 2010.