Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Delaware Art Museum To Showcase ‘Baroque World Of Fernando Botero’

Fernando Botero (Colombian, b 1932), "The Orchestra,” 2001, oil on canvas, 80 by 56¾ inches. Private collection.

The Delaware Art Museum presents "The Baroque World of Fernando Botero," a major retrospective exhibition featuring 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, on view March 15–June 8. Botero (b 1932), well known for his extravagantly rounded figures, is one of the most internationally popular artists working today. Using a broad range of media, the Colombian-born Botero has created a world of his own, one that is at once accessible and enigmatic.

"The Baroque World of Fernando Botero" presents a selection of the best works from various stages in Botero's development as an artist. Drawn from Botero's private collection that has been assembled over the past 50 years, this exhibition includes favorite works that the artist was unable to part with, as well as pieces reacquired years after they left his possession. Many have never before been exhibited in public. And the exhibition goes beyond the Delaware Art Museum's galleries, as three of Botero's sculptures are being mounted in the museum's Copeland Sculpture Garden — "Hand," "Smoking Woman" and "The Rape of Europa."

Botero's roots are in Medellín, and his earliest artistic impressions were molded in a Colombian town close to the Andes mountains. His first images drew upon the Spanish colonial baroque, a movement of extravagant richness, featuring the sumptuous decorations that flourish on the walls of churches in South America.

Botero has spent most of his years as an artist away from his native Colombia, but his art has maintained an uninterrupted link to Latin America. Latin American baroque imagery is reflected in Botero's work when portraying himself as a small boy in the arms of Our Blessed Lady of Colombia, carrying a diminutive flag with the national colors or in depictions of his mother as a widow, in her desperate struggle to survive with her three young children. Botero can also shock viewers with images of terror and violence, referring to the political instability, the attacks, the kidnappings and the torture prevalent in his country.

The exhibition follows Botero in his extensive studies of the history of European art, focusing on the influence of Velazquez in Spain; Ingres, Delacroix, and Courbet in France; and Renaissance artists in Italy. He also turned his attention to Mexico, where the monumental murals by Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros had a profound impact. Botero absorbed the dramatic self-portraits of Frida Kahlo and her idiosyncratic interpretation of Latin American folklore, and was intrigued by the mysteries of pre-Colombian artifacts.

Another important theme illustrated in the exhibition is the reality of contemporary life in Latin America as observed by Botero's satirical eye. A section is presented on everyday life in South America: women observed in the intimacy of their boudoir, street scenes, dance halls and the suggestion of houses of ill repute. Even in his still life paintings, Botero is capable of introducing a hint of menace, creating a sense of uneasiness difficult to define.

The Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway.
For information, 302-571-9590, 866-232-3714

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