Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero has died. The renowned artist was best known for his exaggeratedly stout portrayals of people and objects.
According to the Associated Press, Botero’s daughter Lina confirmed with the Colombian radio station Caracol that her father died Friday morning (September 15) in Monaco from complications of pneumonia. He was 91.
Across the globe, Botero’s artwork was easily recognizable because of his larger-than-life subjects – from politicians to saints to animals. His work was exhibited in museums worldwide, and some of his bronze sculptures have found homes in parks and public areas in cities like Medellín, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Lisbon, London, Singapore, and New York City, among others.
“The painter of our traditions and our defects, the painter of our virtues, has died,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro wrote on social media. “He painted violence and peace. He painted the pigeon that was rejected 1,000 times and put 1,000 times on a throne.”
Born on April 19, 1932, in Medellín, Botero began selling his sketches of bullfights outside the capital’s bullfighting arena when he was a teenager. He was influenced by the Baroque style and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. He also traveled to Mexico to study the work of Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco.
He married and later divorced Gloria Zea and has three children with her: Fernando, Lina, and Juan Carlos. Botero remarried and divorced Cecilia Zambrano. They had a son, who died in a car accident at age five. His painting “Pedrito” depicts his lost child.
Botero began painting and sculpting in the style he is known for today during the 1960s. He started creating bronze statues in the 1970s.
“My subject matter is Colombia, and it has always been Colombia,” Botero said in 2016. “I lived many years in New York, in Paris, and I have never had the feeling to paint an American or a French subject matter. The thing is that the art – and the artist – must have roots in his own land, in his own life: my life is in Colombia, and my land is Colombia.”