Botero at the Museum of Latin American Art

LONG BEACH, Calif. — If you hear someone has a “Rubenesque” figure, you immediately know what that means: a full-figured, though shapely and alluring woman as commonly rendered by the classical Dutch painter Peter Paul Rubens.

The Colombian-born painter Fernando Botero has similarly lent his name to a genre of artistic depiction called “Boterismo.” Curiously, it also refers to the way he imagines the world—not just women, but men too, and animals, even fruits and inanimate objects, like musical instruments—as firmly fleshy, monumental, bigger than life, like a balloon fully blown almost to bursting.

By contrast one thinks of Amedeo Modigliani’s figures with their impossibly long necks and narrow faces, or Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures of human beings attenuated almost to the breaking point.

It would take a depth psychologist, more than an art critic, to fathom why artists see the way they do. I’ve heard it said of Modigliani that it was an issue with his eyesight that elongated his perception.

Botero may not just have given his name to a whole esthetic category of exaggerated volume. At age 90 and still going strong, he is considered the world’s most recognized, referenced, written-about and exhibited living artist. A Botero installation is a historic reference point in any city’s history, galvanizing the admiration and attendance of millions. The most visible places around the world where his large-scale sculptures have been mounted include Park Avenue in New York City, the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and outdoor exhibition grounds in China.

Fernando Botero: The Master (Fernando Botero: El Maestro) is currently on exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in this city, though March 2023. He looms large even before a visitor enters the museum doors with his massive sculpture Reclining Woman (2007).
MOLAA, Museum of Latin American Art

Born in Medellín, but having lived abroad for most of his career—Madrid, Florence, New York, Paris, and his beloved little town of Pietrasanta, Italy—Botero has maintained the essence of Colombian and Latin American elements throughout his long career. Yet the particular is easily transcended in the viewer’s eye: Boterismo has become an international language.

628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, CA, USA 90802
Oct 19 2022 – Mar 1 2023

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