. . . the fact is that fat art has always been the most important art. -Fernando Botero 
The modernist dictum "less is more" seems to elude the practice of the Colombian master Fernando Botero whose works are more closely aligned to a baroque sensibility that rather gleefully assert "less may be better but more is even better." Perhaps nowhere is this philosophy more apparent than in Botero's monumental bronze sculptures in which his familiar cast of corpulent figures and objects appear to have been plucked from his canvases and casually plopped along our boulevards, plazas, and lobbies. Indeed Botero's gargantuan tribe of men, women, children, dancers, horses, and other assorted characters precariously teeter between the realms of reality and fiction while seemingly rendering our own world into a Lilliputian fantasy.
This monumental and dazzling pair of dancers--a recurrent motif in the artist's oeuvre--posits the cultural significance of dance throughout Latin America, and in particular in Botero's hometown of Medellín, a city known for its love of dance and in particular the tango. Echoing the crowded dancehalls, clubs and bars of his beloved Medellín, Botero effectively transports us to another space and time-we can almost hear the striking baritone voice of Carlos Gardel in the background as we envision our dancing lovers gliding across the dance floor their bodies perfectly in synch with each other, embracing, yet careful to maintain a certain space between them as they gaze into each others eyes. The couple's materiality and size belies the affective tenderness and intimacy of this shared moment forever frozen in time.
In the early 1990s Botero's uncommonly beautiful and oversized bronze sculptures began cropping alongside some of the world's most famous boulevards and spaces. From the Champs Elysee to Park Avenue, these massive public exhibitions not only reignited the interest in art in public places but soon made Botero's name and signature style ubiquitous in our collective consciousness. And while it is tempting to seek the sources of Botero's sculpture in the arts of Mesoamerican cultures that share a sense of simplicity of form and a scale reminiscent of Botero's monumental figures, the Colombian master's art practice is perhaps more closely aligned to that of classical art and the work of the great sculpture Phidias. Indeed Botero is quick to posit his own fascination with what he refers to as "fat art" as part of a longstanding thread in the history of art, most notably Greek art, which the artist asserts was "at its greatest in the fifth century, when its figures [were] most voluminous. With Phidias, Greek art entered its "fattest" phase. Phidias's forms are very round. The classical phase, the moment of full maturity, always has the greatest fullness." Perhaps it is this classical lineage that endows Botero's plus sized men and women with a sense of continuity and grace, slightly unexpected and surreal, yet strangely familiar.
1 As quoted in "A Conversation with Fernando Botero," in Werner Spies, ed., Fernando Botero: Paintings and Drawings (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1992), 162.
2 W. Spies, 162.