Botero began working in bronze in the early 1970s, by which time his singular style and artistic reputation were firmly established, and he had exhibited in prestigious institutions throughout Europe and the Americas. It is no surprise he turned to a medium that would allow him to fully employ the most idiosyncratic element of his work – volume – into three-dimensional space. In sculpture, his imaginative figures, animals, and objects materialize as the very essence of his unmistakable style. As suggested by Edward Sullivan in Botero Sculpture, “Botero the sculptor embraces the world he creates in three-dimensional form. He forms it, molds it, hugs it, and makes it a perfect universe of spherical shapes that are the faultless simulacra of his ideal of earthly perfection.” (Abbeville Press, New York, 1986, p. 112)
Botero's fascination with sculpture grew from his love of the paintings and sculptures of Renaissance masters, which he studied in depth during his first trip to Italy in 1953. There, he was particularly taken Andrea Mantegna and Piero della Francesca, whose simplicity and clarity of compositional structure and mastery of perspective were highly influential on Botero's career from then on. Two decades later he set up his sculpture studio in Pietrasanta, Italy, in the same region where Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists once came to seek the perfect slabs of marble for their sculptures.
Throughout Fernando Botero's oeuvre, he references and reinterprets the classical past and the Western canon in his own aesthetic style - from lithe Orientalist nudes to Dutch still lifes and Renaissance interpretations of Biblical episodes. In Monumental Dancers, he reiterates the motif of the dancers reminiscent of turn of the century masterpieces such as Matisse’s The Dance and Renoir’s Dance at Bougival. These works celebrate graceful, elongated figures as they participate in the universal dynamics of celebratory human engagement.
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