Fernando Botero…The Rebel
A Film by Mauricio Martinez-Cavard Produced by Zarafa Films Planet Group Entertainment DVD 52:00
A struggling artist in 1960's New York, Botero's “Mona Lisa at the age of 12” was discovered by the Museum of Modern Art, and it catapulted Botero into the sphere of instant fame. His Latin-American Mona Lisa, a smoking volcano behind her, now beguiles us, much as the cherished icon in the Louvre.
Born in 1932 into the abject poverty of Medellín, Colombia, Fernando Botero is now considered the most famous living artist in the world. Also the wealthiest. And he makes no qualms about it. "Life is such an adventure when you are poor,” he is fond of saying. “To be without money is a great experience".
But as this entertaining film abundantly shows, it is far more fun to be rich and famous. Botero's enormous sculptures march down the most exclusive streets of our favorite international capitals. His color-saturated paintings, their oversized subjects, look back at us from the walls of every prestigious museum from the Louvre in Paris to the New York Metropolitan. Their overblown aspects may reflect the artist's own monumental ego, but the endearingly whimsical quality of his creations show us a playful, mischievous personality.
The camera first captures the famously flamboyant artist in his tropical home, surrounded by the joyous music of the Caribbean, and a constant phalanx of family, friends and admirers.
It follows him to his airy studio and repository, where he is surrounded (but never dwarfed) by huge body parts-- a hand here, a foot there, pale plaster casts of a work in progress, of heroic proportions. We later see the finished pieces, transformed into bronze, and transported with great care and effort, to join others lining the Champs Elysée of Paris, bringing awestruck smiles to an unsuspecting crowd of tourists. For Botero, every exhibition is a major event, and he would not have it any other way.
To study a sculpture or painting of Botero is to follow twenty centuries of western art: From the Latin American influence of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquero and Clemento Orozco to the Spain of Gauguin, Picasso, Goya and Velazquez, then to France and disappointment with the modern French masters, and at last to Italy and the study of the traditional techniques of the Renaissance masters Giotto, Uccelo, Piero della Franchesca, Fra Angelica, Botticelli.
Though influenced in his youth by so many of the great artists of history, Botero, since a first solo exhibition in 1948, continues to surprise and fascinate us with his own very singular vision: He has returned to the colorful, spontaneous folklore of his native Colombia, but his works now have a more rigorous structure, more cerebral, with a spirit of witty, tongue-in-cheek satire. A struggling artist in 1960's New York, his “Mona Lisa at the age of 12” was discovered by the Museum of Modern Art, and it catapulted Botero into the sphere of instant fame. His Latin-American Mona Lisa, a smoking volcano behind her, now beguiles us, much as the cherished icon in the Louvre.
Botero does not 'copy' a well-known masterpiece; he creates a completely original work, "appropriating the theme." Much like the great classical artists before him, he has adapted Van Gogh, as Van Gogh adapted Delacroix. He has adapted Picasso, as Picasso "adapted everybody".
The film is not an art critique of Botero's work, as has been done exhaustively by others. (At least 25 books by last count.). This is instead his personal story, in his own words. Funny and fascinating, Botero has a unique way of looking at the myriad life around him, and his musings on the mysterious, monumental forces that formed him enlighten and entertain. A rare look into the private world of an uncommon man, a true artistic genius, and we are a welcome part of his party.
This Film is licensed for Academic Library, Classroom Screenings, and Closed Digital Streaming
Botero DVD for Library Purchase $250