The sensuous silhouettes and deliciously plump proportions of his subjects have become famous the world over. His presidents and prostitutes, bullfights and firefights, capture the Colombian experience with a whimsy that belies otherwise serious scenes shattered by earthquakes, war and relationships. All are instantly recognizable as Botero.
While Fernando Botero’s unparalleled talent across multiple mediums—from sculpture to watercolor to charcoal—has earned him international acclaim, it is his generosity that has made the artist Colombia’s favorite son. At the peak of his fame, the artist donated 208 pieces to the government of Colombia including 85 pieces by other masters including Chagall, Renoir and Monet. The entire collection was valued at US$200 million; you are invited to enjoy it all for free.
You are beckoned into the museum—which Botero designed himself, as part of the deal—by a huge (and of course, pudgy) hand, the backdrop to one of Bogota’s classic photo ops. From here, you’ll wend your way past two stories of some of Botero’s best work. Enormous canvases pack a punch in the cool, white galleries while smooth, gleaming sculptures—some innovatively displayed, such as Adam and Eve—provoke as much thought as pleasure. The international masters are just as lovingly displayed.
The 1753 Casa de Moneda (House of Money) and Banco de la Republica Art Collection, both in the same complex and free to the public, are also well worth a wander.