Fernando Botero was born in Medellin, Colombia in 1932.

After attending Jesuit school in Medellin, he went to a school for Matadors from 1944 to 1946. He first exhibited in 1948 in Medellin with other artists from the region.

His professional career started with illustrations for the Sunday supplement of the Daily paper El Colombiano.

From 1949 to 1950 he went to the San Jose school in Marinilla, near Medellin and then working as a set designer moved to Bogota in 1951. He had his first one-man exhibition there at the Galeria Leo Matiz. From 1952 to 1953 he studied at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain, and in 1953 moved to Paris.

He is married to Greek sculptor Sophia Vari. It is his second marriage. He has sons Fernando and Juan Carlos. An earlier son Pedro had been killed in a car accident at the age of 4.

Botero studied fresco techniques and art history in Florence from 1953 to 1955 and this influenced his painting. He lived in New York from 1960 to 1970 and his primary inspiration was from the Italian Renaissance. He began experimenting with creating volume in his paintings and sculptures and compressing the space around them. His figures are always very bulky and massive.

In September 1981, in French Vogue's own words "Fernando Botero, the celebrated Colombian painter, was invited by the French edition to illustrate that autumn's collections."

It seemed a very good idea to invite an artist of some real distinction and achievement in the wider creative world beyond fashion, couture and the mode, to concern himself for once, as much for his own enjoyment as for professional advancement or commercial ploy.

French Vogue was prepared to take the plunge, at least now and again and in a magnificent sequence of 15 paintings and a dozen drawings, Botero proceeded to do so, and yet without compromising himself or modifying his work to the slightest degree.

His obsessively, emphatically bulbous and wholly delightful ladies, who confound so spectacularly the conventional wisdom of our times that fat can never be beautiful, let alone most elegantly fashionable, show off the creations of the great Paris houses, the very highest of high fashion, as never before.

Botero's extraordinary fashion plates are manifestly sympathetic and charming, witty and sometimes very funny besides; but chiefly they are demonstrably practical and effective.

This is not to say that Senor Botero should for ever after earn his living in the salons and studios of Parisian Couture; but the simple fact is that, having been asked, he performed to exquisite effect.

Botero is one of the richest and most successful artists. In June 2005 a major retrospective opened in Rome, of 170 of his paintings and sketches. The Exhibition moves to Germany and Greece later in the year.

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