Lot 18
  • 18

Fernando Botero (B. 1933)

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  • Fernando Botero
  • Jugadoras de Cartas II
  • signed and dated 89 lower right

  • 62 3/4 by 79 3/8 in.
  • (159.4 by 201.6 cm)
oil on canvas


Galería el Museo, Bogotá
Private Collection, Long Island


Roslyn Harbor, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Long Island Collects: The Figures and Landscape, 1870's-1980's, September 16-December 9, 1990, p. 56, illustrated in color


Edward J. Sullivan and Jean-Marie Tasset, Fernando Botero: Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné, Paintings 1975-1990, Lausanne, Editions Acatos, 2000, no. 1989/7, p. 446, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The Colombian-born artist Fernando Botero is perhaps one of the most iconic figures in the history of twentieth-century Latin American art. His exuberant, baroque style in which figures, objects, and landscapes are all depicted in a characteristically exaggerated, voluptuous manner is readily recognizable to both art and non-art aficionados. Indeed, Botero’s career has surpassed the recognition of the traditional art world and infiltrated the popular imagination.

Educated in his homeland, Europe, Mexico, and New York, Botero’s influences span such wide sources as colonial and popular religious art and architecture, classical art, Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting, the Mexican School, and the Nueva Presencia as well as Abstract Expressionism. Although Botero’s steadfast commitment to figurative art may seem anachronistic within the context of more international trends of the time, his work should be considered within the discourse of vanguard art practices of the 1960s in Latin America in which many artists consciously sought to re-insert the figure into the literature of contemporary art as an alternative to the increased influence of abstract art. Botero developed his signature style of rounded figures and forms in the mid-1960s and soon developed a repertoire of subjects that would continue to appear in his work until the present day. Perhaps one of the most recurrent of these are his quotations or appropriations of well known works from the canon of Western art, including The Arnolfini Wedding by Van Eyck, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Manet, the Mona Lisa by da Vinci, Las Meninas by Velázquez, and the Odalisque by Ingres. In each of these works, Botero transforms the original into a work clearly his own adapted to his particular style and concerns as a painter. Discussing his use of art historical sources, Botero has stated: “You can take the same subject and create a totally different painting. That’s where real originality lies, in taking something that’s already been done and doing it differently. The important thing for me is to take images that are so well known that they’ve almost become part of popular culture, and then do something different with them. Sometimes, it’s simply that I am deeply interested in understanding a painting, its technique, and the spirit behind it." [1] Botero’s words resonate well with his 1989 painting Jugadoras de Cartas II, a work based on a familiar citation from the history of art, yet thoroughly transformed and made anew in keeping with the artist’s distinct vision. Although a more subtle appropriation, the subject matter undoubtedly links this work to Cezanne’s famous Card Players (1890-1892) now in the collection of the Louvre in Paris. And, while the atmosphere created by Cezanne’s composition—given its stark palette and gestural brushwork—imbues his card players with a sense of gravitas as the pair intensely contemplates their next hand, Botero’s version in contrast is informed by his usual vibrancy and joie de vivre. Part fiction, part reality and rendered in Botero’s characteristic style, the artist updates and transforms Cezanne’s composition by inserting additional characters, including two voluptuous female nude card players seated at the table, a waitress in the lower right-hand-side, and a mysterious disembodied hand stretching out from the left-side of the canvas that appears to be suspiciously aiding one of the female card players by passing her an extra card. Botero’s colorful palette and his mischievous approach to this subject create a decidedly less severe mood than the original work. Likewise Botero transports the scene from a smokey Parisian café to a more Latin American context in which party streamers floating above frame the festive scene and echo the national colors of the Colombian flag. Here and throughout his artistic production, Botero merges “high” art with popular culture a lesson he learned well as a boy in Medellin transfixed by the art of the provincial churches, home altars, and popular commercial prints. Jugadoras de Cartas II successfully establishes a dialogue with all of these worlds breaking down traditional hierarchies of art and culture.

[1] As quoted in Fernando Botero, Botero Women (New York, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2003), p. 84. Originally published in Werner Spies, “’I’m the Most Colombian of Artists’: A Conversation with Fernando Botero,” in Fernando Botero: Paintings and Drawings (Munich: Prestel, 1992).