Fernando Botero, the famous Colombian artist known for his works featuring large-bodied figures, has passed away at the age of 91. The news of his death was shared by his daughter Lina, who told local media that her father had been ill for several days before developing pneumonia.
His death was mourned by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who expressed his condolences on Twitter, calling Botero “the painter of our traditions and flaws, the painter of our virtues. The painter of our violence and peace.”
Botero was known for his distinctive depictions of human bodies with broad arms, necks, faces, and legs, which became his signature style. However, you may wonder why he painted in this manner.
The artist has been asked many times why the people in his paintings and sculptures have such bodies. He explained that he doesn’t paint “fat” people, as some may say, but rather he seeks to emphasize volume.
He articulated this perspective in an interview with EFE during one of his exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao, within the city of Medellín. Botero said, “I have said it many times: I have never painted a fat person in my life. I have expressed volume, I have sought to give prominence to volume, to make it more plastic, more monumental, almost like food, edible art. Art should be sensual in that sense.”
His son Juan Carlos supported this viewpoint, speaking at a special event for one of his father’s works at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL). He said, “To say that Botero paints fat people is a somewhat simplistic assertion. To create fat elements in his paintings, there would have to be thin elements to emphasize the fatness, but there aren’t any. There is a difference between fat and volume.”
He further added, “His style revolves precisely around that proposal, to exalt the volume of things to give them greatness.” Thus, it’s clarified that Botero’s interest was not in portraying the weight of individuals.