6 Fernando Botero Paintings That Highlight His Love of Full-Figured Forms

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One of the most famous living artists from Latin America, Colombian artist Fernando Botero is known for his paintings and sculptures of exaggerated, voluptuous forms. The creative has produced thousands of artworks in his signature style—known as “Boterismo”—and he continues to be as prolific as ever. “I’m a tireless worker; I don’t consider painting a work, it is not an obligation, I do it for pleasure,” he says. “I haven’t found anything that amuses me more than painting.”

Throughout his career, Botero has stressed that he does not “paint fat people.” Instead, he claims his work explores the “sensuality of form.” His paintings cover a variety of subjects, from his own interpretations of Old Master paintings to satirical portraits of political and religious figures. Botero’s trademark, full-figured subjects have often been met with criticism, but they continue to fascinate many art lovers around the world. Read on to discover six famous Fernando Botero paintings that capture his signature style.

Like Fernando Botero’s paintings? Here are six of his works that capture the Colombian artist’s signature “Boterismo” style.

 

Dead Bishops, 1965

 

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Botero grew up in Medellin, Colombia, where the conservative society was dominated by the Catholic church. He was a young student of Catholic priests and kept his faith throughout his life. The artist believes that religion inspired some of the most famous artworks from history. He was once quoted saying, “It’s a noble theme for what it is. Take Michelangelo for example. What would he have painted had he not had religion?” Botero then makes the case, “not one important painting exists of a hunting scene.”

Priests and bishops were a recurring subject in Botero’s paintings during the 1960s. In this piece titled Dead Bishops, Botero depicted a mountain of deceased bishops resting peacefully. Although the narrative is somewhat disturbing, the colorful image still evokes a certain poetic sense of humor.

 

The Sisters, 1969

Family has always been a constant source of inspiration for Botero. This particular family portrait depicts five sisters and their pet cats posed in their home. Each character is painted in Botero’s rounded style, but each sister has their own personality. One holds rosary beads in her hands—a nod to Botero’s Catholic faith—while another clasps knitting needles. Another sister hides in the background as if she’s too shy to come to the foreground. And the youngest sister pulls a silly face, evoking a particularly playful mood. Even the four cats in the composition are represented as chubby creatures.

 

Mona Lisa, 1978

Botero visited Europe in his early 20s and studied the art of Old Masters. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci was particularly inspiring for him, and he interpreted the famous work multiple times throughout his career. In 1959, he painted Mona Lisa, Age Twelve. It depicts the famous subject as a child with a cute chubby face, bows in her hair, and her famous smile. Botera painted Mona Lisa again in 1978, but this time with more details that are similar to the original artwork. Some critics believe that Botero’s inflated versions of famous figures are a paradoxical depiction of their ego or importance.

On recreating famous works in his own style, Botero explained, “These themes are so important to me as they become popular and more or less belonging to all. Only then can I do something different with them. Sometimes I just want to understand a painting in a more profound and complete way, it’s technique and the spirit that leads it.”

 

The Bath, 1991

Botero is heavily inspired by the subject of nude bathers in art, particularly the works of Pierre Bonnard. Bonnard often sketched his nude models in (or near) a bathtub, using a towel, combing their hair, or looking at their own reflection in the mirror. In The Bath, Botero depicts a plump, nude woman standing in a bathroom with her back exposed to the viewer. The suppleness of the woman’s body is juxtaposed against the hard, cold bathroom surfaces.

The subject looks at herself in the mirror with an expressionless face. The painting invites the viewer to question whether she’s feeling vulnerable and self-conscious, or if she’s confident baring all.

 

Death of Pablo Escobar, 1999

Death of Pablo Escobar is one of Botero’s most famous political paintings. It depicts the demise of the famous drug lord who was the sole leader of the Medellin Cartel. Botero painted a giant, oversized Escobar on rooftops of the Medellin neighborhood after being hit by several bullets. Botero didn’t intend to celebrate the death of Escobar but rather to highlight the violence in his country.

Later in 2006, Botero created another piece inspired by the notorious criminal titled Pablo Escobar, Dead. In that piece, Escobar is painted lying on the rooftop of a house, punctured with bullets—but appearing as if he’s peacefully sleeping.

 

Dancers at the Bar, 2001

 

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Botero often painted scenes in which people are shown dancing. And though his satirical renderings may seem humorous at first, they often illustrate social and political issues. In Dancers at the Bar, Botero depicts a ballerina who is posed with one leg and one arm held upright at the ballet bar. The painting is perhaps a commentary on the social expectation for women to be slim, especially in the traditional dance industry. Botero’s subject appears confident and strong as though she doesn’t care for conforming.

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