Painting the Terrible; Meanings?


National Museum of Colombia
"The Procession" (2000)
From the new work on the meaning of War

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Botero's Mona Lisa
in his earlier, playful, teasing style

Fernando Botero: figuration
In Fernando Bolero's own words:

During the 1950's and 1960's interesting changes were taking place on the international art scene. Pop Art was so baptized in 1954, and the years that followed were those of “happenings.” The powerful galleries in New York-which had become the capital or the art world-and influential magazines such as Time and Life endorsed and promoted art as a consumer product. There was a rash of exhibits of antimuseum art” which ironically wound up invading the very institutions it was supposed to be attacking. It should be noted that for the most part the international avant-garde was not engaged in a search for renewal following a logical line of development; it merely rejected accepted values, aiming at novelty.

"Along with the consumer aesthetic came deterioration in aesthetic values. Latin American artists who evidenced interest in figuration in the 1950’s were reacting against this situation. Realism became an avant-garde trend, adopted in opposition to tendencies generally current. Desirous that the public understand their allusions to political and economic situations and events of private life, artists engaged in developing a symbolic language accessible to the public, placing great emphasis on “meaning” and on professional training. The concern of these artists was not with perpetuating a style or repeating an early trend, but with achieving thoroughgoing renewal. Realism provides guidelines, but it did not constitute a style. The works produced during this period can perhaps be classed under the general headings of Fantastic Realism, Synthetic Realism, Expressionistic Realism, and Hyperrealism."
Fernando Botero, Colombian Artist

Botero's Massacre in Colombia
Massacre in Colombia
The Horrors of War

Botero's commentary on his recent paintings of war and violence:

But Mr. Botero, 72, is now producing works that represent a dramatic break in substance, if not style, from his past. They are paintings that depict, in horrific detail intended to alarm and sadden, a conflict that is little understood outside Latin America: the brutal, drug-fueled guerrilla war that has been going on for 40 years in Colombia.

"They are different from what I have done in the past, the kinder Colombia that I knew as a boy," Mr. Botero, who lives in Paris and New York, said in a recent interview. "This is a Colombia that is more violent, more real. This is the fact that we cannot ignore."

Fifty paintings and sketches, made since 1999 and done in pastels, oils, pencil and charcoal, were exhibited last year in Stockholm, Copenhagen and The Hague. A four-month exhibition at Maillol Museum in Paris, which ended in March, drew 116,000 visitors.

But Mr. Botero's plan all along was to donate the works to the National Museum of Colombia here, "where they belong," as he put it in a handwritten fax announcing the donation in February 2003.

"If they make an impression on the public, I have completed the mission of showing the absurdity of the violence," Mr. Botero said in an interview.
From Turning an Eye From Whimsy to War. . . Backup.


Photo by Carlos Villlon for the NY Times.
Fernando Botero, 72. with an icon from his new style
designed to bring awareness of its violent history to Colombia
and to help his countrymen see the despair and futility of violence.

Back to Main Page of Hypertext Poem
Back to Table of Contents of Hypertext Poem
Go to Botero, Collecion 2004, at Musee Nacional de Colombia
Chronologia de la Vida y la Obra de Botero