Fernando Botero (b. 1932)
Fernando Botero (b. 1932)
Fernando Botero (b. 1932)
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Fernando Botero (b. 1932)
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Man on a Horse

Man on a Horse
signed and numbered 'Botero 3⁄3' (on the base)
Height: 137 in. (348 cm.)
Width: 63 in. (160 cm.)
Depth: 90 1⁄2 in. (230 cm.)
Executed in 1999.
Edition three of three.
Collection of the artist.
Marjorie S. Fisher, Palm Beach, Florida.
Her sale; Sotheby's New York, 22 November 2016, lot 19.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
A. M. Escallón, "The Genesis of Fernando Botero's Sculptures," Sculpture Review, Fall 2001, no. 24 (illustrated).
Florence, Piazza della Signoria, Botero a Piazza Signoria, 23 June - 10 September 2000, p. 128-129 (illustrated in color).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Botero: Monumental Sculpture, 10 May - 16 June 2001, p. 6-7 (illustrated in color).
Venice, Palazzo Duccale, Botero a Venezia: Sculture e dipinti, 12 April - 12 July 2003, p. 106-107 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Yebisu Garden Place, Botero at Ebisu, 31 March - 11 July 2004, p. 72-73, no. 16 (illustrated in color).
Further details
1 Fernando Botero, quoted in Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz Fisac, “The Perils of Popularity,” The Art Newspaper no. 120 (December 2001): 46.
2 Botero, quoted in Botero: Aquarelles, Dessins, Sculptures (Basel: Galerie Beyeler, 1980).
3 Botero, quoted in Marie-Pierre Colle, “Fernando Botero,” in Latin American Artists in Their Studios (New York: The Vendome Press, 1994), 49.
4 Botero, quoted in Clare Henry, “New York: Botero, Marlborough,” Sculpture 21, no. 3 (April 2002): 73.

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Lot Essay

This work is accompanied by a photo certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Botero first turned to sculpture in 1972, eventually expanding his métier from wood and clay to bronze, the medium in which he has best translated the pillowy volumes of his painting into three dimensions. He has dedicated his summers to sculpture since the early 1980s, long working from a studio in Pietrasanta, a small town on the Tuscan coast that has drawn artist-residents from Michelangelo to Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore. “It provides the ideal conditions for sculpting,” Botero explains. “Centuries of art are breathing there.” He considers sculpture “a natural extension” of his painting; “for me,” he allows, “sculpture is painting without borders.”[1] At times scaled to monumental proportions, as in Man on a Horse, his sculptures render the serene, statuesque bodies of his paintings in real space, their volumes fully realized in the round. “Sculpture was a natural experience in my evolution because of the obvious sculptural element in my paintings,” Botero acknowledges. “This was a return to simplicity, to growing indifference to details and to a more geometric awareness of shape.”[2]
The subjects of Botero’s sculpture are familiar from his work on canvas: men and women, bathers and dancers, animals and myths. “The truth is that in sculpture the themes have always been the same,” he observes. “For example, a horse: in art it has existed forever, since prehistoric times, but you see a Chinese horse, an Egyptian, or Assyrian, or a Picasso horse, and they are always different. In painting, there is still room to disseminate with color, with the background; the poetic implications can be distracting. Not in sculpture. It’s like a bullfight. You can go out with the muleta and play a little, but there comes a moment when you have to confront the bull and stab him with the sword. It’s the hour of truth. Sculpture is the same: the nude is the hour of truth.”[3]
Man on a Horse descends from a long lineage of bronze equestrian statues, from Marcus Aurelius in Rome to Donatello’s Gattamelata in Padua, and Botero’s horse and rider embrace the heroic monumentality and grandeur of their predecessors. For three decades, Botero has exhibited his sculptures in iconic public spaces around the world, among them the Champs-Élysées in Paris and New York’s Park Avenue. Man on a Horse was among the works shown in Florence’s famed Piazza della Signoria in 2000—notably, Botero was the first contemporary artist to be offered this historic site—and later along the Grand Canal in Venice. Like his counterpart in Woman on a Horse (2000), the subject of Man on a Horse sits placidly astride his mount, his head turned to the left as he gazes steadfastly into the distance. Man and horse are elegantly distilled to essences of shape and volume, their plastic forms a pure exaltation of life. “Sculpture enables me to create real volumes,” Botero once reflected. “Sculpture is like a caress. You touch the form, you can give the forms the softness, the sensuality you want. It’s magnificent.”[4]
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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