On April 29, 2010, Marlborough Gallery will present an exhibition of monumental sculpture by the world-renowned Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. The exhibition will feature work with classical subjects such as Leda and the Swan, 2007 (67 x 127 x 55 in.), and Rape of Europa, 2007 (114 x 120 x 62 in.). Botero’s large-scale sculptures have been exhibited to critical and popular acclaim in public exhibitions around the globe, including on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, Park Avenue in New York, Chicago, Venice, and most recently in Berlin, Athens and Seoul.
Botero’s monumental sculptures are formal masterpieces of composed volume and mass. He has said of his sculpture, “I never give particular traits to my figures. I don’t want them to have personality, but rather that they represent a type that I create. My sculptures do not carry any messages, social or otherwise… what matters for me is the form, the voluptuous surfaces which emphasize the sensuality of my work.”
In addition to Leda and the Swan and Rape of Europa, Marlborough’s exhibition will include Woman on a Horse, 2006 (114 1/8 x 87 3/8 x 55 1/8 in.) and Reclining Woman, 2006 (65 3/8 x 137 3/4 x 56 3/4 in.). With these works, Botero contemporizes historical precedents such as the equestrian sculpture and the reclined nude, both of which have their artistic roots in antiquity. Standing over nine-feet tall, Rape of Europa is a unique interpretation of this mythological theme. The nude maiden reclines on her side on the back of the massive bull, balanced, with one hand supporting her head and another outstretched. The figure is poised in a relaxed manner as the strong bull supports her. The serenity of the pair are in contrast to the dynamic, shifting elements of Europa’s story as related by Ovid. Here, Botero depicts a languid Europa, with no trace of fear as described in Metamorphoses. Jupiter as the bull is attentive and his curled tail implies a degree of domesticity: Europa seems to have tamed him completely.
Equally striking is Botero’s sculpture Leda and the Swan. Here the swan squats on Leda’s chest and stretches its elongated neck in an almost Mannerist gesture towards Leda’s turned face. The warm brown patina of the sculpture encourages the eye to explore the highlights and the shadows of the bird’s pointed wings and her voluptuous bronze body. Woman on a Horse, weighing over 1,600 pounds, is an imposing sculpture that impresses the viewer through its scale and solidity. Both the rider and her mount communicate a sublime stillness. Similar to Botero’s Reclining Woman, this sculpture has a rich, dark grey patina that absorbs light along the expansive volumes of the sculpture.
Botero was born in Medellin, Columbia in 1932. He moved to Bogota in 1951 and had his first show there the same year. His first retrospective took place in 1970 in Germany at museums in Baden Baden, Berlin, Dusseldorf and Hamburg. Since then, Botero has continually showed in museums all over the world. In the last ten years he has had an astounding number of museum shows in the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the United States.
Botero’s work can be found in forty-six museums. Among the most prominent are the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany; Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany. Numerous monographs have been published on Botero’s work in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese.
An illustrated catalogue will be available at the time of the exhibition.