Fernando Botero Angulo (born 19 April 1932) is a Colombian figurative artist and sculptor, born in Medellín. His signature style, also known as “Boterismo”, depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Self-titled “the most Colombian of Colombian artists” early on, Botero came to national prominence when he won the first prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1958. He began creating sculptures after moving to Paris in 1973, achieving international recognition with exhibitions around the world by the 1990s. His art is collected by many major international museums, corporations, and private collectors. In 2012, he received the International Sculpture Center‘s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.
Fernando Botero was born as the second of three sons of David Botero (1895–1936) and Flora Angulo (1898–1972) in 1932. His father David Botero, who was a salesman who traveled by horseback, died of a heart attack when Fernando was four. His mother worked as a seamstress. An uncle took a major role in his life. Although isolated from art as presented in museums and other cultural institutes, Botero was influenced by the Baroque style of the colonial churches and the city life of Medellín while growing up.
He received his primary education in Antioquia Ateneo and, thanks to a scholarship, he continued his secondary education at the Jesuit School of Bolívar. In 1944, Botero’s uncle sent him to a school for matadors for two years. In 1948, Botero at the age of 16 had his first illustrations published in the Sunday supplement of El Colombiano, one of the most important newspapers in Medellín. He used the money he was paid to attend high school at the Liceo de Marinilla de Antioquia.
Botero’s work was first exhibited in 1948, in a group show along with other artists from the region.
From 1949 to 1950, Botero worked as a set designer, before moving to Bogotá in 1951. His first one-man show was held at the Galería Leo Matiz in Bogotá, a few months after his arrival. In 1952, Botero travelled with a group of artists to Barcelona, where he stayed briefly before moving on to Madrid.
In Madrid, Botero studied at the Academia de San Fernando. In 1952, he traveled to Bogotá, where he had a solo exhibition at the Leo Matiz gallery.
In 1953, Botero moved to Paris, where he spent most of his time in the Louvre, studying the works there. He lived in Florence, Italy from 1953 to 1954, studying the works of Renaissance masters. In recent decades, he has lived most of the time in Paris, but spends one month a year in his native city of Medellín. He has had more than 50 exhibitions in major cities worldwide, and his work commands selling prices in the millions of dollars. In 1958, he won the ninth edition of the Salón de Artistas Colombianos.