On Friday, artist Fernando Botero passed away at a hospital in Monaco from complications due to pneumonia, according to his daughter, Lina Botero. He was 91. An iconic painter and sculptor who found international success pushing the boundaries of volume and form with his voluptuous figures, Botero made instantly recognizable artworks that have been a source of delight to viewers and collectors for some 70 years.
As a girl growing up in Medellín, Colombia, in the 1990s, when the city was widely considered one of the most violent places in the world, associated with drug cartels, murders, kidnapping, and cocaine, finding reasons to feel proud of my hometown wasn’t exactly easy. Yet Botero made it possible.
Though he ventured into a wide range of themes and scenes in his work, including representations of world famous characters like Marie Antoinette and the Mona Lisa, many of Botero’s most impactful pieces were rich with political undertones and a satirical sense of humor. With his whimsical spheroidal subjects, he depicted scenes of war, corruption scandals, and political rivalries, as well as scenes capturing the joys of everyday life, honoring the beauty and messiness of our country’s reality at a time when few Colombians believed art could be about us, let alone for us.