Fernando Botero, After Velazquez, 2005.

Fernando Botero, The Widow, 1997.

The Baroque World of Fernando Botero

Internationally renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero (b. 1932) is a painter, sculptor, and draftsman. He depicts the comedy of human life, creating a world of his own which is both accessible and enigmatic, blending violence, humour and beauty. His images of his native country and its inhabitants combine brilliant colour, cultural identity, and political satire. They are what Antiques and the Arts Online refers to as “outgrowth of his vivid memories of growing up in a provincial Colombian town.”

By describing Botero’s art as “Baroque”, exhibition curator Dr. John Sillevis, Curator of the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, is commenting upon the artist’s use of exaggerated form and proportion. Botero manipulates, compresses, and experiments with the dimensions and proportions of his subject matter, altering the viewer’s perceptions and how one reads and understands the objects depicted. Baroque art is also noted for possessing a particular theatricality—a decadence or opulence of drama and emotion. Rather than the austere and removed idealistic beauty of the Renaissance, art from the Baroque period seethed with emotion, sensuality, monumental forms, and convoluted and exaggerated drapery, as if the scene was playing out on a stage before the viewer. Botero takes this same energy and tension, using it to great effect in his paintings and drawings.

The 100 works on display are drawn from the artist’s personal collection, assembled to contain his favourite works, a number of which he actively sought to reacquire after parting with them for periods of time. Several of the works are being exhibited for the very first time. Visitors will enjoy Botero’s lively and vibrant paintings, his delicate drawings, and his sensual sculptures. Of the latter, three are truly monumental in size.

As with all art production, artists do not work within a vacuum. Botero is no different and his works speak to art historical precedent, Colombian culture and politics, self-autobiography, memory, violence and social excess. The Baroque World of Fernando Botero provides audiences with the opportunity to explore the work of an artist who chose not to conform, instead opting to follow his own personal vision. An artist who celebrated the figure and the work of earlier masters at a time when the epic heroes of abstraction, such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, ruled supreme. At times misunderstood or underappreciated by critics because of his dedication to representational imagery, Botero has emerged as a major figure in 20th century South American art. This exhibition provides a long overdue opportunity to investigate the complex workings of this talented artist.

The Baroque World of Fernando Botero marks the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in North America since the late 1970s, and the first occasion for the WAG to feature it. The exhibition tour opened to record crowds at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (Quebec City) and comes to the WAG after a successful run at the Glenbow Museum (Calgary). Fernando Botero presently lives and works in Paris, New York, Monte Carlo and Pietrasanta, Italy.

Exhibition  organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia. Media sponsor: Pattison Outdoor Advertising.


Exhibition admission : WAG member $5 • Student admission card $5 • Adult $14• Senior (60+) $12 • Student $12 • Youth (aged 6-12) $9 • Child under 6 Free • Family (up to 2 adults and 4 children under 18) $32 (includes regular Gallery admission)


To learn more about this exhibition, click here.

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