While in Bogota recently, I had the great pleasure to visit the Botero Museum and its superb collection of works by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero. The works are housed in a magnificently restored colonial mansion in the heart of Bogota’s historic La Candelaria area, where the city was founded. It is one of the world's secret treasures.
The permanent exhibition includes more than 120 of Botero’s own paintings, drawings and sculptures as well as 85 original works by such artists as Renoir, Monet, Degas, Matisse, Miro, Chagall, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and Dali - all donated by Botero in 2000 when the museum was opened. The Museum itself is a beautiful building in traditional style, well worth a visit in it's own right.
I found Botera's work fascinating, some highlights of which can be seen below.
The Museum is an absolutely ‘must visit’, two hour treat and should be at the very top of every visitor's list – certainly an equal first to the next on your list which should be the Gold Museum, which is in the same part of Bogota, not far from the Botero.
If Botero’s work is unfamiliar (that link loads very slowly), he is among Colombia’s most famous exports. He is the artist who ‘paints fat people’. His love of life and affection for Colombia and its people is revealed in every painting. In the UK, the closest we’ve ever seen to these ‘plump paragons’ is in the work of Beryl Cook from the early seventies. Her work has the very same irreverent sense of fun and 'joy of life' captured on the canvas by Botero and she has a similar preoccupation with the 'larger form' of her protagonists. Although both claim not to paint 'Fat Women'
The painting on the left above is 'Paraja Ballando' by Botero and on the right is 'Tango' by Beryl Cook. Both artists are well worth further study, but back to the Botero Museum. There isn't the space in this article to do full justice to what the exhibition offers. I could almost say that it's worth going all the way to Bogota just to see it. All the work is presented so beautifully.
The photo above shows how you are greeted by Botero's 'El Estudio' as you go into one of the main galleries. Botero is said to have painted himself into this particular piece (the artist on the left!).
My photo of Botero's 'Monalisa', above, just captures the artist's very smooth painting style, best revealed in his skin tones. Below is a shot of Salvador Dali's 'Bust - Retrospective of a Woman' which is beautifully displayed in one of the many alcove displays one comes across during a tour of the galleries.
Finally, in this short review, I ought to mention the superb collection of sculptures which accompany the many paintings. The 'Hombre. Mujer y Nino', shown below, is just one example of the extraordinary work on offer.
Unlike the Royal Academy of Arts in London, The Botero Museum is happy for visitors to photograph the art, provided that no flash is used, so it's possible to come away with some quality images to remember the wonderful experience to be had here. There were no guide books available in English, at the time, but there is an online gallery here. Well worth a second visit whenever I'm next in Bogota!
For those who would like to understand Botero's points of view, there is an interesting TED talk: