Monday, February 01, 2010

Nassau County Museum of Art Announces Exhibition by Fernando Botero

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Fernando Botero, "Venus", 2005. Oil on canvas, 67 1/2 x 50 1/2 inches. Photo; Courtesy: David Benrimon Fine Art LLC.

ROSLYN HARBOR, NY.- Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) will present a major exhibition that showcases work by one of the most honored Latin American artists working today. Fernando Botero includes a range of paintings, drawings and monumental sculpture that exemplify Botero’s most familiar themes: commonplace scenes of everyday life, life in the bedroom, life of the streets and people rapt in the excitement of music or family activities. Throughout, Botero’s characters are seen in their “Botero-esque” girth and grandeur. Works by this famed artist were previously seen at the museum in a major 2005 exhibition. Fernando Botero opens at NCMA on March 13, 2010 and remains on view through May 24, 2010. The exhibition is sponsored by David Benrimon Fine Art LLC.

A native of Colombia, Botero has resided in New York, Paris and Tuscany. In the 1960s, he began to achieve acclaim for his satirical paintings of oversized, flesh figures with large limbs and small bodies. In 1971 he began making sculptures as well, an example of which is Man on Horseback —a self-assured gentleman in a suit and bowler hat, his legs as large as those of the horse. This work greets visitors along the wooded path leading to the museum and is a permanent part of NCMA’s Sculpture Park. Botero’s smooth rounded depictions of people and animals exhibit a comic disregard for correct proportions. This skewing of form is central to works by Botero. He has said: “In art, as long as you have ideas and think, you are bound to deform nature. Art is deformation.”

Botero’s work and vision were honed in his studies of art history. He was strongly influenced by the masters of the Renaissance and Baroque period, most especially by Diego Velázquez. The greatest master of the Spanish Golden Age, Velázquez has traditionally served as both inspiration and challenge for artists, especially those from Spain and Latin America. Botero came into first-hand contact with Velázquez’s work in Madrid, in 1952 when he studied at the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Botero particularly connected with the humanity, individuality and compassion of Velázquez’s portraits of the dwarfs of the court of King Philip IV, employed as jesters and caretakers for the royal children.

Botero is additionally one of the most well-known and respected of the late 20th-century still-life painters. His representations of fruits, flowers, vegetables, sweets, meats and cheeses embody many of the characteristics that are observed in his other subjects. They display a marked engagement with sensuality. There is a sense of the sacramental or the ritual in many of these paintings. A number of Botero’s still lifes have particular resonance within the context of Colombia, often displaying distinctively Colombian meals, birthday tables or references to other occasions celebrated in that country.

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