7 Facts About Fernando Botero

There's lots to learn about this larger-than-life artist

By Google Arts & Culture

1. Medellín was home

Fernando Botero Angulo was born in the city of Medellín, Colombia, in 1932. He attributes his unique style of inflated figures to the bloated baroque architecture of the city. In his hands, Boterismo can confer humour, criticism, or affection on his subjects.

El estudio (1984) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

2. He could have been a contender

While Botero was an impassioned young artist, at the age of 12 his uncle sent him for two years to a school for matadors. But Botero preferred to paint - the first watercolour he made was of a matador - and he started his art career selling paintings of bullfights.

La playa (1998) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

3. He likes big butts and cannot lie

Botero says that he finally decided to become an artist after finding a copy of Esquire magazine and seeing the painted pin-up girls of Peruvian artist Alberto Vargas. Botero may not be a matador, but his blood runs red.

Naturaleza muerta con espejo (1998) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

4. His art got him into trouble

At 17 he was expelled from his Jesuit high school for his 'irreligious' ideas after he wrote an article on Picasso and Cubist fragmentation for El Colombiano, a Medellín newspaper. But his interest in art persisted, and he later travelled across Europe to study Old Masters.

Monalisa (1978) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

5. He took the Grand Tour

In 1952 he started studying at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. The next year he moved to Paris, where he spent most of his time in the Louvre. He then went on to Florence, Italy where he learned the fresco techniques of the Italian masters.

Mujer con pájaro (1973) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

6. Inflated Ego

By the 1960s he was living in New York, USA, and experimenting with distorted figures. In 1969, his work was shown in the exhibition Inflated Images at the Museum of Modern Art. This is the event that established his reputation as a major painter.

El ladrón (1980) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

7. Simple Absurdity

Botero doesn't often feel a need to explain his artwork. Describing his style, he once said, "An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it."

Caballo (1996) by Fernando BoteroMuseo Botero, Bogotá

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