Botero exhibit is huge hitWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the exhibit opened last month, the artwork of Fernando Botero has caught the attention of many area residents — even those who have not yet entered the Toledo Museum of Art.
Three massive cast bronze sculptures on display outside the museum — two along Monroe Street and one on the other side of the building — have been a huge hit, said TMA Associate Director Amy Gilman.
“Especially on the front of the building, where if you spend a little time you actually see people drive by and you’ll see them turn around and stop and they all get out of their cars and take pictures in front of the sculptures,” Gilman said with a laugh. “They’re like ‘Wait a minute — there’s a giant nude woman in front of the museum. Let’s just get out and stop.’ She’s 2,500 pounds. I mean, that is a big, big sculpture.”
Another sculpture — a giant hand — practically calls out for a high-five. Sure enough, there are hand-shaped smudges in the middle of its massive palm that show many museum visitors have done just that.
“They serve as a great advertisement for the show in a way we’re not able to do all the time. Not every artist we have here does work that we can actually show outside of the building,” said Gilman, who is also TMA’s curator of modern and contemporary art. “To have these big sculptures sitting in front of the museum really stops people in their tracks.”
“The Baroque World of Fernando Botero,” on display through June 12, features a collection of 100 pieces from the artist’s personal collection, including paintings, drawings and sculptures. The pieces are arranged in three rooms, starting with his earliest work and moving toward his latest so visitors can watch his style develop from the 1950s to the late 2000s, Gilman said.
Toledo is the final stop and only Midwest venue for the traveling exhibition, which opened in Canada in 2007 and has since toured 11 other U.S. museums, mostly in the South.
“Certainly Mr. Botero is the best known contemporary artist from South America,” said TMA Public Relations Manager Teri Sharp. “I won’t be surprised to see visitors from outside our region. We’re the only one in this region (to have the show) and the last chance to see it.”
Known for his use of vibrant color, unique portrayal of figures and the larger-than-life scale of his work, the Colombia native has a style that is instantly recognizable and draws visitors from room to room, Gilman said.
“He’s incredibly popular with the public,” Gilman said. “One of the things people can expect is to be blown away by how luscious these paintings are. They’re very sensual. The colors are fantastic.”
All labels are in English and Spanish, which is Botero’s native language, Sharp said.
Although Botero has lived and created most of his artwork outside Colombia, Latin American imagery remains a large part of all his work, according to information from TMA.
Sent to a bullfighting school at a young age, Botero found he preferred drawing to being in the ring. A student of art history, travels to Spain, France, Italy and Mexico inspired his style, which was already distinctive by the time he moved to New York City in 1960 while in his late 20s.
“It’s an incredibly big deal and we are really delighted to have his work here,” Gilman said.
Cost for the Botero exhibit is $15 for nonmembers, $12 for seniors 65 and older, $5 for students ages 6 to 22, and free for TMA members and children younger than 6.
Upcoming programming related to the exhibit includes:
- 7:30 p.m. May 6: “Fernando Botero and the Art of Radical Stylization.” Former TMA director Don Bacigalupi, now executive director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., will discuss how Botero’s style compares with the uniquely exaggerated styles of other artists.
- 7:30 p.m. June 3: “Fernando Botero: Examining the Myth.” Edward J. Sullivan, professor of art history at New York University and author of three books about Botero, will discuss how Botero’s work compares to the Old World masters he studied and how he in turn inspired modern styles like pop and graphic art.