"Horse with saddle"
Fernando Botero’s signature style—which transcends his paintings, prints, and sculptures—is characterized by round, apparently inflated figures. The artist draws inspiration from diverse influences which range from Renaissance masters such as Rubens and Velázquez to 20th-century Abstract Expressionists and Diego Rivera’s murals. Botero’s bulbous renderings of art historical characters have been interpreted as gestures of irony or caricature. Born in Medellín, Colombia, the primarily self-taught artist decamped to Europe in the 1950s and immersed himself in art in Paris, Madrid, and Florence. In the ensuing decades, he’s exhibited at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm. His work now sells for millions at auction. Botero is also celebrated for his bronze, large-scale public sculptures.
“I never give particular traits to my figures. I don’t want them to have personality, but rather that they represent a type that I create. My sculptures do not carry any messages, social or otherwise… what matters for me is the form, the voluptuous surfaces which emphasize the sensuality of my work.”
- Fernando Botero
"Woman on a horse"
Born in 1932 in Medellin, Colombia, Botero is a internationally-acclaimed artist, who strives to experiment boldly with proportion and volume in his paintings and sculpture making his artwork instantly recognizable.
Botero’s early work was much inspired by his fascination for, and study of, the Renaissance Old Masters. Whilst travelling in Europe in the 1950s he visited Florence, where he was exposed to the paintings of Paolo Uccello – a painter great influential in the development and dissemination of perspectival theory. One such work of particular significance to Botero is the the Battle of San Romano (Uffizi), in which bloated horses are depicted from varying perspectives, providing inspiration for his own artistic aesthetic.
"Man on Horseback"
It was not until 1973 that Botero finally turned his attention to bronze, a new material for him that successfully transformed the artist’s signature figurative paintings into three-dimensional sculptures, inflated, heavy and voluptuous in structure. In the 1980s, he purchased two houses in Pietrasanta, Italy, home to many well-known foundries and quarries and a place where the importance was first recognized by Michelangelo due to its connection with marble, enabling the artist to extend his artistic expression to a new medium.
“Sculptures permit me to create real volume... One can touch the forms, one can give them smoothness, the sensuality that one wants.”
- Fernando Botero
Horse is a dominating and celebrated theme of Botero’s art, exuding an extraordinary sense of tranquility and balance. With his attention to finish and detail Botero carefully renders the sculpture’s surface, creating extremely smooth, refined and undulating lines all the way around the work - a testament to the artist’s skillful technique and pursuit of aesthetic perfection. With the long and straight tail resting on its thighs and its head erect the horse bears an expression of dominance and determination. Furthermore its powerful muscular chest, and round compact body and legs convey an energetic and mighty presence accentuated by its large scale. Reminiscent of the elegance and nobility of classical sculpture with its graceful and assured pose it also brings to mind the artist’s childhood recollections of Colombia, where the famous “Paso Fino” horses, with their sleek and ambling gait, are bred.
While invoking the mythical sublime, Botero’s Horse is sculpted with an affectionate reverence for its status as man’s timeless companion and friend. In Botero’s focus on the horse motif, we can trace a larger preoccupation with the Spanish literary and cultural tradition in the artist’s body of work, reflected in his depiction of intrinsically Spanish pastimes and figures ranging from bull fights to conquistadores. These themes are deeply related to his sumptuous formalism, which pays homage to the tradition of baroque Old Master painting rather than modernist innovations – in his sensual volume, a conscious communion with the baroque naturalism of Diego Velázquez and the romanticism of Francisco de Goya becomes apparent. In Horse, Botero celebrates the iconography of the storied Spanish tradition as translated through his signature Boterismo.