Fernando Botero Angulo (1932-) is a figurative artist and sculptor from Medellín, Colombia. His signature style, also known as "Boterismo," depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs Elysées in Paris, in addition to Medellín’s Botero Plaza, where tourists flock to see his sculpture.
From 1949 to 1950, Botero worked as a set designer before moving to Bogotá in 1951, where he began painting in the style of pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art. Shortly after his arrival, he had his first solo exhibition at the city’s Galería Leo Matiz. After a brief sojourn in Barcelona in 1952, Botero moved to Madrid, where he studied at the Academia de San Fernando, and became known for his skilled copies of famous Prado Museum painters such as Francisco de Goya and Diego Velázquez, selling them to tourists.
The next few years of his life would be devoted to fruitful research; in 1953, the artist traveled to Paris where he studied at the Louvre, while he lived in Florence from 1953-1954, devoting much attention to Renaissance masters. During this period, he began experimenting with bodily proportion and size, such that by the time he moved to New York City in 1960, his trademark painterly style had been refined: large, rounded bodily forms, in which figuration is flattened and outlines are rendered bold – references to Latin American folk art. He also eliminated the appearance of brushwork and texture, as in Presidential Family (1967), which was also inspired by the Old Masters he emulated in his youth: his formal portraits of the bourgeoisie and political and religious dignitaries clearly reference the composition and meditative quality of formal portraits by Goya and Velázquez.
In 1973 Botero returned to Paris and began creating sculptures in addition to his works on canvas. These works extended the concerns of his painting, as he again focused on rotund subjects. Successful outdoor exhibitions of his monumental bronze figures, including Roman Soldier (1985), Maternity (1989), and The Left Hand (1992), were staged around the world in the 1990s. In recent years, a 2005 series of drawings and paintings based on the United States’ Abu Ghraib abuse gained considerable attention and notoriety.