Fernando Botero is one of the most renowned South American artists of the contemporary era. Adapting a vibrant and bold approach to the prevalent themes of Latin American art, Botero has developed a style which is uniquely his own and at the same time, pays a tribute to the voluptuousness of the form in the works of Old masters.
Born in Medellín, Colombia, in 1932, Botero was four years old when his father passed away. While he was inclined towards art from an early age, Botero first enrolled in a school to become a bullfighter. During these early years he also made watercolour paintings of bulls and matadors. One of his first illustrations was published in a leading newspaper when he was only 16 years old. After his first show in Bogotá in 1951, the artist travelled with a group of artists to Barcelona before moving to Madrid. During his stay in Spain, he came across and was enthralled by the works of the high Renaissance and Spanish Baroque, which would continue to inform his practice. His other inspirations included Spanish masters such as Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris, as well as Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. In 1953, the artist moved to France and then to Florence, Italy. In Paris, he got the opportunity to study the works at the Louvre museum and in Italy, he encountered frescoes by the Masters of the Italian Renaissance. Calling himself 'the most Colombian of Colombian artists,' Botero garnered widespread prominence in his country after winning the top prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1958. Two years later, the artist moved to New York, where he continued working on his trademark style and started to gain international recognition.
During the early 1970s, the artist settled in Paris, where he began creating sculptures in addition to his work on canvas and paper and producing works such as Big Hand, executed in 1976-77. By the 1980s, Botero’s success led to large public commissions of his art. Botero Plaza in Medellín is now home to 23 of his sculptures. His works can be found in the collections of the world’s leading museums, such as Museo Nacional de Arte Renia Sofía, Madrid, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Botero Museum, Bogotá, and others. They are also publicly installed on the streets of several global cities, including New York, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Jerusalem, and Bamberg in Germany.