Born in 1932 in Medellin, Colombia, Botero is a internationally-acclaimed artist, who strives to experiment boldly with proportion and volume in his paintings and sculpture making his artwork instantly recognizable.
Botero’s early work was much inspired by his fascination for, and study of, the Renaissance Old Masters. Whilst travelling in Europe in the 1950s he visited Florence, where he was exposed to the paintings of Paolo Uccello – a painter great influential in the development and dissemination of perspectival theory. One such work of particular significance to Botero is the the Battle of San Romano (Uffizi), in which bloated horses are depicted from varying perspectives, providing inspiration for his own artistic aesthetic.
It was not until 1973 that Botero finally turned his attention to bronze, a new material for him that successfully transformed the artist’s signature figurative paintings into three-dimensional sculptures, inflated, heavy and voluptuous in structure. In the 1980s, he purchased two houses in Pietrasanta, Italy, home to many well-known foundries and quarries and a place where the importance was first recognized by Michelangelo due to its connection with marble, enabling the artist to extend his artistic expression to a new medium.
“Sculptures permit me to create real volume... One can touch the forms, one can give them smoothness, the sensuality that one wants.”
- Fernando Botero
Cast at Fonderia d'Arte Massimo Del Chiaro in Pietrasanta, Horse is a dominating and celebrated theme of Botero’s art, exuding an extraordinary sense of tranquility and balance. With his attention to finish and detail Botero carefully renders the sculpture’s surface, creating extremely smooth, refined and undulating lines all the way around the work - a testament to the artist’s skillful technique and pursuit of aesthetic perfection. With the long and straight tail resting on its thighs and its head erect the horse bears an expression of dominance and determination. Furthermore its powerful muscular chest, and round compact body and legs convey an energetic and mighty presence accentuated by its large scale. Reminiscent of the elegance and nobility of classical sculpture with its graceful and assured pose it also brings to mind the artist’s childhood recollections of Colombia, where the famous “Paso Fino” horses, with their sleek and ambling gait, are bred.
Through differing artistic expressions equestrian art is a genre that transcends cultural boundaries between the East and West. From Tang Dynasty painter Han Gan’s Night-Shining White, the symbolic Sancai-glazed pottery horse sculpture, to modern master Xu Beihong’s horse paintings the horse has always been revered as an auspicious symbol of power in China. Botero’s proportionally exaggerated and sensuous Horse not only emphasizes the influence of Colombian folk imagery and early American stone sculptures, but also highlights the majestic nature of this beautiful creature admired in both Chinese and Western civilization.
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