Posts Tagged ‘Botero’

Fernando Botero in his workshop
Wow! So the world renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero is being investigated by the Italian “financial police” looking to recover what they say is owed in taxes – only the princely sum of one million dollars US.

Botero says he owes nothing wrong and has only given work to over 120 artists and artisan of Pietrasanta, Italy over the last 20 odd years. The police on the other hand say that since the sculptures are completed in Italy and then sent overseas to clients and galleries, that there are taxes to be paid and not just by the workers – but by the master himself.

Botero is indignant. He says he owes nothing and has broken no laws and if the Italian government continue to hound him he will leave the town and take the jobs he provides elsewhere!

What should Botero do?


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While setting my head down on my pillow, readying myself for a night of relaxed slumber I had the strangest of thoughts. it occurred to me that many artists – in Colombia at least – tend to be repetitious in their art, especially when they have found or created a work that has been more commercially successful.

I could simply point the finger at Botero as the cause of this for Colombian artists.

His work show “fat people” in many guises. He has become identified with them.

However, I do not believe that identification is the objective of repetition and most probably is a result of certain commercial or at least public success when a work has been created that has been acclaimed by the public  ( . . . . and possibly sells well too.)

But I think there is a little more to it.

In Colombia at least, there is still no cultural interest in buying copies, especially lithographs or giclees. In part because a giclee is still quite expensive with respect to an original work and many lithographs or serigraphs are not appreciated for what they are. So, as such, there is little demand for them. And so, it is actually “easier” for the artist to repeat an artwork either similarly or loosely disguised with respect to the original work that gained importance or recognition. Often it is the galleries as well as the buying public that cause this to happen – they want a work from “such and such” a series. The thing is – perhaps the series never existed – it was just that the artists created a great work of art that should have been left to stand on its own – without having to be pigeon holed.

What this all boils down to is that I see (and know of) many good and creative artists who tend to become martyrs of their own success and often their apparent creativity  as artists is not realized to its full potential. (I speak of their potential as artist – not artisan or draughtsman).

I think some may hid behind the concept that they are creating a style – a fashion – in their art and that is why it may seem repetitious – but I think it is about time that the artists start to use the mediums of reproduction to force the public to buy works that they like in that way so that they cannot go to the artists and say they want a “copy” of a work they saw. This can only damage the artists soul.

What do you think dear reader?

Have you seen this elsewhere in the world?

Do you agree that this may occur?

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Fernando Botero is one of the worlds richest artists. His workshop which manages the production of monumental which are placed worldwide employs around 100 people – now that`s hard to imagine – in Italy, so we are talking about paying people in euros not pesos!

With an average wage of around €20.000 per year then thats over €2.000.000 on wages alone – wow! I bet even Damien Hirst doesn`t get close to that sum for the people he employs. Anyway – to pay out so much money (and I would suggest that that sum could be doubled in relation to purchase of bronze and traveles and exhibition expenses etc) Mr Fernando Botero obviously has to generate quite a tidy sum of cash each year. I would suggest that it might be around USD $10-20.000.000. Big business indeed.

So . . . . . .

What Does Botero Do With All His Money?

Well he obviously has a very enjoyable lifestyle, but just recently it was revealed that Botero actually gives a lot of cash away. He is a philanthropist. Not perhaps in the league of Gates or Buffet but he is actually very generous with his cash.

Let me list a few items:

  • Botero Prize for Art (annual) : USD $50.000
  • He set up a Senior Home for older poor elder people in Bogota:Est. $300.000
  • He set up a system to pay for children’s food in the poor Choco province :Est. $20.000 / year
  • He donated $200.000.000 worth of artwork to Colombia for its people to enjoy.

Botero’s philanthropy, in fact, was often low-profile and most Colombians, apart form his museum donation and art prize would not be aware of his other philanthropic work. He most truly is a most wonderful person.

You can read more about this story and an interview by Daniel Chang with Botero at the link below.

Botero Interview on his Philanthropy


Find out more on Botero:

The Art of Fernando Botero


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Once again we are at that time of year when the Latin American Art market starts to get all excited and to see what could be tremendous results at auction for some of their better known (and usually defunct!) artists!

This time around Rufino Tamayo has emerged as the leader for the sale of his works “Trovador” (sold for $7.2 M) and “El Comedor de Sandìas” ($3.625M).

Representing Colombia as ever was Botero and a “new” rising star to the art auction scene Omar Rayo.

Locally Rayo`s work have been getting much more difficult to get a hold of and prices have been strongly rising which is now being well reflected in international auctions. His work “Pijao” from 1970 (100cm x 100cm – acrylic / canvas) was sold for more that its estimate and made USD $18,000.

The Colombian sculptor Eduardo Ramirez Villamizar (RIP) also had works for sale which more than exceeded expectations: an acrylic scupture estimated at $4000 sold for $13,000!!!!

An Ana Mercedes Hoyos bronze also did well and reached its price estimate of $16,000.

All in all, a good night at the auctions for Colombian art.

What is really interesting to note is that in 1979 when Sothebys started selling Latin American art at auction they sold a total of $1M. Now, just 30 years later their total sales tops $50M which does show how the the market has expanded. And I believe will continue to expand when it is considered that the Latin American economies are growing strong despite a blip in the US economy this year. So, start visiting your local galleries and get yourself up to date on the local Latin American art scene if you think it is time to make you money count!

If you would like some tips on where to invest in the colombian art scene you are welcome to write to:

art (at) artcolombia.com

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Bodegón - Still Life by Botero

Yep, I bet you were expecting to see a fat person – right! Well, Botero does much more than that and hopefully if you read this full article you´ll start to understand a little more about this man – an artistic legend in his own lifetime – and his art.

The Art of Fernando Botero

Of Caricature & Commercialization . . .

Fernando Botero is Latin America´s most well known and highest quoted living artist, yet his work is often described by its detractors as caricaturist and too simplistic.

Such are the problems faced by world renowned artists – sigh!

However, in some ways I have to agree. There is a high degree of caricature in his work but it is not aimed in any particular direction and as such is not looking to create satire or mockery as is normal with caricature – except perhaps in a self-effacing way. What some perceive as caricaturesque in his work I simply believe is his style. No more, no less.

Botero Ballet Dancer

The other accusation is that Botero sold his soul to the devil of commercialization. Again, I have to agree – but let me explain what I see and feel about his work.

I know many artists and they are often different to you and me – us “normal” people. Botero is an artist and so he is probably different. 99% of artists just want to express their ideas so it is not unusual that when an idea becomes a hit for an artist – usually after many years of exploration – either through an internal search or via reasoning and study – that they will take that idea to its limit.

That is all that Botero has done – but yes, after 30 years of exploration it is impossible for him to develop it much more: His original idea being how the inter-relation of components in a drawing or painting can distort or shape what the viewer perceives. That idea rapidly developed to what in the mid-eighties became his trademark – fat people. Nowadays the initial relationship between items in his latest works is largely lost and has been replaced by what people believe they have been seeing over the past two or three decades – fat people. And it is here that the commercialization of his work began – with an easily recognizable trademark that most people can understand.

But we also have to look at the art industry which since Warhol has been transformed. Art through poster reproduction has been allowed to enter everyones home. So is Botero at fault because his art was commercialized because it could be commercialized? I don´t think so. Very few artists I know have a $ dollar sign in front of their eyes when they work. It is just NOT what motivates them – and I am sure Botero is no different.

Botero and his History of Art

There have however been another two persistent themes in the artists work: His integration of history (generally euro-centric) as related to the arts in his work and of course a relationship with his native Colombia.

Given that Botero went to live and study in Europe while still a teenager says a lot about the man and his desire to learn. In those days the world was a much bigger place and in the concept of a trip to Europe at that time was still a huge enterprise. To leave home and travel so far was no mean feat – he really had to have had a massive desire to learn his trade to have made that effort then.

So having traveled to Spain and France he finally settled in Florence and it was there that he started to discover himself as an artist- that he wanted to re-invent the volume that has originally been discovered in Florence only 500 years earlier! . . . and set it to his own works. And he was successful in that.

So, in many ways, although Botero says it was an accident that he made his discovery of volume. I believe it was a much more due to a well orchestrated happenstance or Jungian synchronicity. Or to state in another way: The more one studies, learns and practices the greater one becomes. What happened in Florence was a NATURAL occurrence destined to happen to someone intelligent and brave enough to go out and explore – not dissimilar to a 15th century adventurer discovering a new world – yet recognizing that it has similar attributes to the one left behind.

Botero has built up within his work a reflection of the art history that he has studied and he has reproduced that in his own personal way.

Botero and Abu Ghraib

Botero - Abu Ghraib

For me the culmination of the artists work lies in his expression of the incidents created by the US soldiers at Abu-Ghraib in Iraq. Although he toned down the political significance when the works were released to the public in 2005 there is no doubt as to the depth of what he is expressing in historical terms given the artists trajectory – being pretty much a quiet and private person he probably didnt really want to rock the boat – but anyone who knows recognises that Botero, intelligent as he is, has figured out that these are the works that will mark his name in the annals of history when people look back in a hundred years or two hundred years from now. They depict the America of George Bush.

Abu Ghraib - Botero Abu Ghraib - Botero

Now I heard some say that Botero was just looking for publicity and that is why he chose Abu Ghraib as his subject matter – personally I doubt that. Colombia has had its unfair share of violence over the last few decades and that was one of the topics that also moved Botero to create some of his more violent works in the nineties as can be seen in this book available from Amazon.

Botero Book

Here is a link to a YouTube video with Fernando Botero being interviewed at Berkeley – you can probably skip the first 8 – 10 minutes as it is just introduction (though quite interesting all the same!)

Like to see which Botero posters are available? Just click that link!

Wondering about the prices of Botero´s artwork – check them out on the net.


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Noooo! I do not mean the artist is being sold . . . . just one of his paintings: The well known work ‘El conquistador’ by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero will be brought to auction tomorrow in Madrid.

With an estimated value of US$630.000 I predict that this large painting (224 x 170 cm) signed in 1984 and showing a spanish “conquistador” looking at the spectator while holding a blunderbuss in one hand and a sword in the other while treading on the face of a dead indian, will reach a much greater price…..probably over USD $1.000.000 if all goes well.

Hopefully this piece of art still belongs to Botero. Although he is estimated to have a fortune greater than USD $100.000.000 he has always denied this…and I believe him.

Making huge amounts of money in the art world is not always so easy and as in any business there are many cogs that have to boiled for the machine to work correctly. So, although the Maestro has never pleaded poverty I feel certain that his wealth is not as great as many would be led to believe . . . !

So tomorrow, October 9th at the Sala Retiro de Caja Madrid, this great work along with other Spanish and Latin American artists such as Antoni Tàpies, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Danilo Vinardell, Agustín Bejarano and Roberto Fabelo.

If you would like to know more about international pricing of artworks you can always go to ArtPrice which is THE place to get transparent data on the international art market.

Get Transparent Art Prices Now!

PostDatum: Well the results are in and Mr Botero´s artwork sold for the reported price of . . . . 645.700 euros (though I am not if that includes the auctioneers commission)  which is right now about USD $930.000 so I wasn’t far away in my estimate.

PS: If any readers are looking to purchase a Botero original then please contact me initially through this blog.

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