Fernando Botero was born in Medellinn, Antioquia, Colombia, where the church adopted the Baroque style. Throughout his childhood, Botero was isolated from traditional art presented in museums and other cultural institutes. He lost his father at the age of 4.
In 1944, after Botero attended a Jesuit school, Botero's uncle sent him to a school for matadors for two years.
In 1948, at the age of 16, Botero published his first illustrations in the Sunday supplement of the El Colombiano daily paper and used the money he received to pay for his high school education at the Liceo de Marinilla de Antioquia. 1948 was also the year Botero first exhibited, along with other artists from the region.
From 1949 to 1950, Botero worked as a set designer, before moving to Bogota in 1951. His first one-man show occurred at the Galeria Leo Matiz in Bogota, a few months after his arrival. In 1952, Botero travelled with a group of artists to Barcelona, where he stayed only briefly before moving on to Madrid.
In Madrid, Botero studied at the Academia de San Fernando. In 1952, he traveled to Bogota, where he had a personal exhibit at the Leo Matiz gallery. Later that year, he won the ninth edition of the Salon de Artistas Colombianos.
In 1953, Botero moved to Paris, where he spent most of his time in the Louvre. He lived in Florence, Italy from 1953 to 1954, studying the works of Renaissance masters.
Botero's work includes still-lifes and landscapes, but Botero tends to primarily focus on situational portraiture. His paintings and sculptures are united by their proportionally exaggerated, or "fat" figures, as he once referred to them.
Botero explains his use of these "large people", as they are often called by critics, or obese figures and forms thus:
"An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it."
Botero is an abstract artist in the most fundamental sense of the word, choosing what colors, shapes, and proportions to use based on intuitive aesthetic thinking. Though he currently spends only one month a year in Colombia, he considers himself the "most Colombian artist living" due to his insulation from the international trends of the art world.
Botero gained considerable attention in 2005 for his Abu Ghraib collection, which began as an idea he had on a plane, finally culminating in more than 85 paintings and 100 drawings.
>The Circus collection followed in 2008, with 20 works of oil and watercolor.
In an interview promoting his Circus collection, Botero said: "After all this, I always return to the simplest things: still-lifes.