Apr 19

Happy 80th Birthday Fernando Botero – 80 facts about Botero for his 80th Birthday


"I am at least this old"
“I am at least this old”


Fernando Botero, the globally renowned Colombian artist, turns 80 today, and to celebrate his life we here at See Colombia have put together 80 facts about Señor Botero (some may or may not be true):

  1. His full name is Fernando Botero Angulo.
  2. He was born in Medellin, Colombia on April 19th, 1932.
  3. On the same day Paul de Bruyn of Germany won the 36th Boston Marathon in 2:33:36.4 and U.S. President Herbert Hoover suggested a 5 day work week.
  4. He shares his birthday with Dudley Moore, Jayne Mansfield and Kate Hudson.
  5. His father worked as a travelling salesman on horseback and his mother was seamstress.
  6. He attended matador school for two years.
  7. Inspired by this, his first known work is a watercolour of a matador.
  8. He “didn’t even know this thing called art existed” until he was 15.
  9. He began working at El Colombiano newspaper in 1948, illustrating their Sunday magazine.
  10. He used the money he was paid to attend high school at the Liceo de Marinilla de Antioquia.
  11. His work was disapproved of by his teachers and he received warnings about his nude drawings.
  12. His response was to publish an article called “Picasso and Nonconformity in Art”.
  13. This got him expelled from school.
  14. The school which expelled him now bears his name.
  15. He once worked as a set-designer for a travelling theatre group.
  16.  “When you start a painting, it is somewhat outside you. At the conclusion, you seem to move inside the painting.”
  17. As a young man he lived in Madrid, Paris and Florence, studying and selling copied paintings of Goya and Titian to tourists.
  18. He studied in the San Ferdinando Academy in Madrid, and the San Marco Academy in Florence.
  19. When he returned to Bogota he was forced to sell car tyres to make a living.
  20.  In 1951 he had his first one-man exhibition at the Galerias de Arte Foto-Estudio Leo Matiz.
  21. His early work was strongly criticised for having no style of its own.
  22. He married Gloria Zea in 1955 and his first son, Fernando, was born.
  23. Three years later a daughter, Lina, followed and in 1960, a son, Juan Carlos.
  24. He discovered his trademark “fat people” style in 1956 when painting a mandolin: he drew a sound hole that was too small, making the instrument seem huge.
  25. However, according to Paul’s housemate’s boyfriend’s mum he started painting fat people because his muse in Paris was overweight. Any other theories?
  26. This style is sometimes called “Boterismo.”
  27. In 1958 his painting ‘The Bride’s Chamber’ controversially won first prize in the Salon de Artistas Colombianos.
  28. He designed some of the illustrations for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s La Siesta del Martes.
  29.  In 1964, he married Cecilia Zambrano.
  30. His first European exhibition was in 1966 in Baden-Baden, Germany.
  31. He began to sculpt when he moved to Paris in 1973.
  32. Tragically, his third son Pedro was killed in 1979 in a car accident.
  33. Botero himself lost a finger and some movement in his right arm from this crash.
  34. “A painted landscape is always more beautiful than a real one, because there’s more there. Everything is more sensual, and one takes refuge in its beauty. And man needs spiritual expression and nourishing. It’s why even in the prehistoric era, people would scrawl pictures of bison on the walls of caves. Man needs music, literature, and painting – all those oases of perfection that make up art – to compensate for the rudeness and materialism of life.”
  35. He separated from his second wife in 1975.
  36. “He likes fat people, don’t he?” – Paul, See Colombia.
  37. In 1983 he established a workshop in Tuscany, allowing him to focus on his metal sculptures.
  38. Some of these weighed as much as 3,000 pounds.
  39. At this time, he decided to become the definitive artist on bullfighting.
  40. He was allegedly furious to discover that two of his paintings had been found in Pablo Escobar’s house after the druglord’s death in 1993.
  41. “I describe in a realistic form a nonrealistic reality.”
  42. He was the target of a failed kidnap attempt in Medellin in 1994.
  43. His sculpture, The Bird, was blown up by guerrillas in 1995.
  44. He created a new version as a replacement, but insisted that the destroyed version remained, to represent peace and violence.
  45. Guerrillas declared Botero a symbol of oppression.
  46. He was estranged from his son Fernando for 3 years after his conviction for accepting drug money in 1996.
  47. He is a huge fan of reggaeton, thrash metal and UK Garage (possibly).
  48. In 2000, in a departure from his usual style, he began exhibiting paintings inspired by the violence in Colombia.
  49. This included a famous depiction of the death of Pablo Escobar.

    Fernando Botero - The Death of Pablo Escobar
    Fernando Botero – The Death of Pablo Escobar
  50. “Art should be an oasis, a…refuge from the hardness of life. But the Colombian drama is so out of proportion that today you can’t ignore the violence, the thousands displaced and dead, the processions of coffins.”
  51. He painted a series on the abuses in Abu Ghraib between 2004 and 2005.
  52. “Fernando Botero’s latest series of paintings, inspired by the Abu Ghraib photos, immerse us in the experience of suffering in a way the original photographs never did” – Arthur Danto.
  53. He is currently married to the Greek artist Sophia Vari, whose sculptures can be seen in Cartagena.
  54. They divide their time between Colombia, New York, Paris and Italy.
  55. He has had over 50 exhibitions in cities around the world.
  56. “Making this list has made me hungry, I’d like to eat a Botero banana…they’re massive” – Chris, See Colombia

    Fernando Botero - Still Life With Bananas
    Fernando Botero – Still Life With Bananas
  57. He counts the Flemish master Rubens as one of his greatest influences.
  58. In 1992 he sold a painting of a brothel scene for $1.5 million at auction.
  59. His second art show in 1952 earned him…7,000 pesos.
  60. “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it” – Botero explaining his use of fat figures.
  61. He copied his goatee from either Ricky Gervais, Ali G, or Mickey Rourke.
  62. The value of his artistic donations is estimated at $200 million.
  63. He donated around 90 pieces from his private collection to Bogota’s Botero Museum.
  64. This included works by Picasso, Chagall and Salvador Dali.
  65. It will cost you 0 pesos to visit the Botero museum in Bogota – now that’s value for money!
  66. The cat sculpture he recently donated to Medellin lost two whiskers within two weeks of its unveiling.
  67. Replacing the missing whiskers cost around 6 million pesos.
  68. Well-known figures depicted in his work include Manuel Marulanda, the Mona Lisa and Jesus.
  69. He was conducted into the Legion of Honour by the French Ambassador to Colombia in 2002.
  70. In 2010 paintings thought to be worth $6.5 million by Botero, Picasso and Chillida were stolen from a Madrid gallery, but were recovered 3 weeks later.
  71. He is fairly prolific: he has over 3,000 paintings and 300 sculptures to his name.
  72. “I often think about death and it saddens me to leave this world and not be able to paint more. I love it so much.”
  73. Age hasn’t slowed him down: he still works 10-hour days on his art.
  74. “I work more now perhaps because I know that there is so little time left.”
  75. It’s much harder than it sounds to find 80 facts about Fernando Botero…

    Fernando Botero
    Fernando Botero
  76. He has called himself “the most Colombian of Colombian artists.”
  77. If he ever decided to branch out into music, he would need a stage name…‘Fernando Botero’ is taken.
  78. He has painted several self-portraits – one of them nude!
  79. He has been alive for 29,221 days…and counting.
  80. See Colombia Travel loves Fernando Botero…Do you?!

Once again, Happy birthday Fernando Botero.


5 thoughts on “Happy 80th Birthday Fernando Botero – 80 facts about Botero for his 80th Birthday

  1. justin on

    hes a cool guy


      Fernando Botero on

      Yeah he was cool


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