Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fernando Botero

The artist I chose to research is Fernando Botero because his work obscures reality in a unique way that at times is humorous while also making statements about society. I was first introduced to his work when I was in a high school Spanish class. I marveled over his almost carefree, pleasurable style which showed that art didn’t always have to be realistic. Fernando Botero is known for his voluptuous depictions of people in his paintings and sculptures. He was born in 1932 in Medellin, Columbia. When Botero was four his father, a salesmen, died of a heart attack and Botero, his mother, and two brothers struggled to survive poverty. At age 12, Botero trained to become a matador along with his education but soon turned to painting as his career. Many of his paintings created then were scenes from the ring. By the age of nineteen, Botero had his first solo exhibition in 1951 and shortly after had a monograph of his work was published. A year later, Botero graduated from Liceo de Antioquia in Medellin and began studying art at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. During the late 1950s, Botero travelled to Florence, Mexico, and New York Studying different styles of painting before he was appointed professor of painting at the Bogota Academy of Arts where he held the position for 2 years. Also he married his first wife. Through his travels, Botero looked at the abstraction in art and turned to academic painting for guidance. By the early 1970s Botero decided to eliminate all brush strokes from his painting style in favor of the smooth surface. In a time where the dark almost coarse work of Francis Bacon was the new popular art of that time, Botero’s work reminded people of pleasure. Botero’s art is influenced by Piero della Francesca’s focus on expressiveness and large forms which drew Botero to manipulate scale in his works through proportional anomalies. Many of his paintings and drawings are characterized by round, full objects. He creates volume through his use of adjusting color intensities and the texture of all the objects in a given scene is consistently smooth throughout such as in this water color with pencil drawing:

Man/1975/pencil and watercolor
Also his work shows that his influence is not of the many places he has been but of his upbringing in a Hispanic household. In 1970, Botero had his first son from his second marriage and until 1974 when his son was killed in a car accident, Botero’s work was inspired by his son’s life. Later, Botero returned to New York where he began transitioning from painting and drawing to sculpture. His reasoning for switching artistic fields occurred because he had “the impression that it is necessary to do the same thing in very different ways, always searching for new effects; to produce a new vision, one never seen before, is one of the most important things for an artist.” His first sculptures were produced while he was in Paris. Fernando Botero has created a style of his own where he sees an abundant and overflowing reality. Botero has received many awards across the world for his renowned work and now lives in New York, still painting.
Here are some of his drawings I found in a recent book that was published. I was amazed at the many sketches he had as well as the many I know didn’t even make it into this book. I really like Botero because he has a wide range of materials which he uses while drawing. In both of these drawings, Botero uses pencil as his instrument on paper and canvas. But instead of the colorful, vibrant art in his paintings, these two pieces of art are very scaled down in terms of value. These are both two contour line drawings. Both depict Botero’s voluptuous outlook on all his subjects.
The Smoker/1980/pencil on paper (top)
A concert/1995/pencil (bottem)

Still life with lamp and coffee pot/1998/charcoal and white chalk on canvas

In this sketch, Botero actually uses blending and hatching techniques to create the value and shading on the pot and lamp if you look closely. I like this piece particularly because Botero carefully depicts the details in the wooden stand. He used charcoal and white chalk on canvas to make this image in 1998.

Woman with mink stole/1972/Charcoal on canvas
This piece titled “Woman with mink stole” was created in 1972 with charcoal on canvas. The piece has the traditional abundant woman as a trademark to Botero’s style. I like this drawing because Botero does a great job of creating texture in all of the different objects in the piece. For instance, the woman’s skin is very smooth and blended while the curtains have a rougher texture to depict the cloth. Also the woman’s mink stole actually has fur and careful detail. It looks very realistic. The overall piece has great dynamic value which allows the viewer’s eye to travel along the piece.

I like this piece entitled “Two Musicians” because it uses a lot of value and has many highlighted parts in the subjects. Botero goes uses the most value in this piece and still manages to create a narrative that doesn’t get lost in the value. Great work.
Two musicians/1990/white chalk

Botero’s “Hand” expresses his trademark style in which there is a simple line drawing and it is brought to life through his use of color. In this piece the brush strokes aren’t visible and Botero creates the hands texture through the use of the value in colors. As u can see the fingers are lightly painted using water color while the palm and wrist are a dark fleshy color.

Hand/1998/pencil, watercolor and pastel

Congdon, Kristin G., and Kara Kelley Hallmark. Artists from Latin American Cultures: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, Ct: Greenwood Press, 2002. 40-44.
Fumaroli, Marc. Botero Drawings. Bogotá, D.C., Colombia : Villegas Editores, 1999. (All drawings were scanned from this book)
“Fernando Botero Bibliography.” Art Directory. 2010. 9 Nov 2010. http://www.fernando-botero.com/.
--Mariah Hukins

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