Fernando Botero - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Literature

    J.C. Lambert, Botero Sculptures, Ed. Benjamín Villegas, Bogotá: Villegas Editores, 1998, pl. 56. Illustrated in color

  • Catalogue Essay

    “In a sense Botero has taken up the challenge issued by Baudelaire: ‘Genius, for an artist, involves the invention of a cliché.’ A cliché, that is, something so obvious that we no longer even ask what it is. It is complete in itself, and repeated. So too with ‘Botería’. Anyone who has seen one of Botero’s works only once will never again have any doubt about it. It exists and will exist. An immediate relationship is established with a vast range of reactions ranging from jubilation to passionate rejection. Of what other artist could as much be said? Botero never leaves the spectator indifferent.”

    (J.C. Lambert, Botero Sculptures, Ed. Benjamín Villegas, Bogotá: Villegas Editores, 1998, p. 7)

    When considering Fernando Botero’s immense oeuvre, his larger-than-life nudes and warriors will probably come to mind before his still lives. And yet, it’s worth remembering that there is virtually no genre that Botero has not delved into, always with the same grandiosity and hyperbole. Nevertheless, in spite of his thematic scope, one could argue that he treats all of his works like nude bodies, replete with ambitious curves, soft extremities, and imposing spatial presence.

    Like most artists of his generation, his aesthetic approach was not always this unique. He gradually worked his way through more traditional styles until arriving at what would become his trademark. His 1974 Still Life with Watermelon, for example, does not look all that different from the plethora of still lives scattered throughout the art historical canon. However, upon closer inspection, one can begin to notice the slight roundedness of the table’s edges, the mattress-like thickness of the tablecloth, and the subtle swelling of the bananas.

    Just two years later, he created a sculptural version. The tablecloth is more deftly executed than in the 1974 painting, or maybe it just seems that way because it already reflects the sumptuousness and enormity of the Botero we have come to know. The hatching on the watermelon is the only element of roughness in an otherwise smooth and continuous unity, throughout which the eye travels as it does throughout his nudes.

  • Artist Biography

    Fernando Botero

    Colombian • 1932

    Colombian artist Fernando Botero is known for his voluptuous and exaggerated paintings, sculptures and drawings. He studied under Roberto Longhi, a renowned authority on Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, obtaining a remarkable art historical knowledge of Western Classicism. This dialogue between an erudite education and religious art for the masses is the key in the development of his aesthetic.

    Botero was also influenced by Mexican muralism, with which he became acquainted while living in Mexico City. The monumental scale of the human forms in the murals gave rise to the voluminous figures for which he is best known. Botero's works make mordant comments on society's shortcomings; they also incorporate classical elements and are imbued with political satire and caricature.

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Still Life with a Watermelon

Bronze with brown patina.
59 x 74 3/4 x 45 1/4 in. (150 x 190 x 115 cm).
Signed "Botero" right edge and numbered one of six. This work is from an edition of six.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $362,500

Latin America

14 & 15 November 2011
New York