5 iconic works by Fernando Botero

5 iconic works by Fernando Botero

Painting “must have volume and space,” stated the Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, who died this Friday at the age of 91.

The artist said that, when painting a mandolin in the late 1950s, he discovered "a new dimension that was more volumetric, more monumental, more extravagant, more extreme."

“If I paint a woman, a man, a dog or a horse, I do it with volume. It's not that I have an obsession with fat women,” he said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo in 2014.

“I took a separate path, almost opposite to most other artists. I am not a cubist, impressionist, surrealist, expressionist. I am what I am".

However, his hallmark forced him to have to clarify the same thing repeatedly during his career: he did not paint fat people, but rather voluminous ones. He wanted to explore the monumentality of forms and exalted volume.

“To say that Botero paints fat people is a somewhat simplistic statement,” said his son Juan Carlos Botero at a conference in 2019.

“To create fat elements in his paintings there would also have to be thin elements to highlight the fatness, but there aren't any, because fatness is one thing and volume is another. Botero's style revolves precisely around that proposal, exalting the volume of things to give them greatness,” he added.

Among the many iconic and representative works of Fernando Botero, BBC Mundo selected five of them:

1. "Dead bishops"

Beyond what the shapes outlined in his works, Botero also imprinted his point of view on them.

One of the first to attract attention beyond Colombia was "Dead Bishops" (1961): a pile of bodies of Church leaders with their vestments.

2. "A family"

Throughout seven decades of work, Botero painted his image of a traditional family in various versions. One of them was what he titled simply "A Family" (1989).

3. "Mona Lisa at 12 years old"

Also with his characteristic style, Botero painted his own version of Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa in 1959, but showed La Mona Lisa as a teenager. This is "Mona Lisa at 12 years old."

4. "The bird"

In the world of sculpture, Botero also used shapes with wide curves.

One of his most representative and history-laden works was "The Bird", installed in his native Medellín and which in 1995 suffered an episode of the criminal violence of drug trafficking.

In San Antonio Park, an unidentified group detonated 10 kg of dynamite on the side of the bronze sculpture, which was severely damaged.

The artist refused to have it repaired and replaced. Instead, he sent a new dove to accompany the first, a symbol of criminal violence.

5. "Cat"

Another of the Medellín artist's best-known sculptures worldwide is "Cat".

Made of bronze and 7 meters long, it was installed in Barcelona in the 1980s.

For the 1992 Olympic Games in that city, it was moved to the vicinity of the Olympic Stadium. From that moment on, he acquired worldwide fame.


Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero


Fernando Botero Angulo (19 April 1932 – 15 September 2023) was a Colombian figurative artist and sculptor.His signature style, al ...