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Exhibition at Hôtel de Caumont presents works by Fernando Botero in dialogue with works by Pablo Picasso
Fernando Botero, The Fornarina, after Raphaël, 2008, oil on canvas, 198 x 143 cm, private collection © Fernando Botero.


AIX-EN-PROVENCE .- The exhibition "Botero: a dialogue with Picasso", which is being held at the Hôtel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence from 24 November 2017 to 11 March 2018, presents the Colombian master’s rich oeuvre from a unique perspective, which explores his artistic affinities with Pablo Picasso. Sixty works by Botero (oils, works on paper, and sculptures) are complemented by twenty major works by Picasso, originating from the collections in the Musée National Picasso-Paris and the Museo Picasso in Barcelona.

Despite very different origins, lives, and careers, the two great artists share common geographical and cultural points of reference. In his youth, Fernando Botero (born in 1932) took an interest in the work of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973); he admired his rich palette and the monumentality and sensuality of the forms. But Botero particularly admired Picasso’s ‘nonconformism’ (sic). In both artists’ works, the distortion of the human body and volumes corresponds to a resolutely subjective view of reality. It also reflects a radically modern approach in the history of figurative art, which is at the root of each artist’s unique artistic language.

The respective careers of Botero and Picasso are characterised by a fundamental questioning of painting and art. At the Hôtel de Caumont, the exhibition ‘Botero, dialogue avec Picasso’ (‘Botero: a dialogue with Picasso’) provides an overview of the themes they tackled in their work, as visitors move from one room to the next :

• Portraits and self-portraits
• The influences of the masters who preceded them in the history of art
• Still lifes
• Nudes
• Representations of major historical and political events
• Bullfighting
• The world of the circus
• Music and dance

Among the major works are Botero’s diptych After Piero della Francesca (1998), the monumental Pear (1976), Pierrot (2007), and La Fornarina, After Raphael (2008); and also The Acrobat (1930), The Village Dance (1922), and Massacre in Korea (1951) by Pablo Picasso, and his interpretation of Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1957).

In addition to the paintings, the exhibition presents several sculptures by Botero, including his imposing Horse (1999), and twenty drawings by the two artists. A medium that was widely used by the two artists, the drawings enable visitors to discover a less well-known aspect of Botero’s oeuvre and a more personal side of his artistic work.

Designed and created by Culturespaces, and curated by Cecilia Braschi, the exhibition is part of the "Picasso-Méditerranée" project, initiated by the Musée National Picasso-Paris.

THE EXHIBITION ITINERARY

ROOM 1 : BOTERO AND PICASSO: PORTRAITS AND SELF-PORTRAITS

The first exhibition room presents Botero’s biography, from his Colombian origins to his cosmopolitan life, while introducing the visitor to the theme of the exhibition: an imaginary dialogue between Botero and Picasso. A series of portraits and self-portraits show their shared interest in the human figure, the way in which they represented themselves as artists, and the way in which Botero viewed the Spanish master.

ROOM 2 : COPIES OR INTERPRETATIONS ? THE ARTIST’S IMAGINARY MUSEUM
A wide range of paintings show Botero’s tributes to artists from every period in history. Some of them are artists that Picasso also studied, such as Velázquez, Ingres, and Cranach. In any case, they are not just copies but veritable interpretations of their work: in both artists’ works, an in-depth knowledge of the work of the masters who preceded them enabled them to develop their own unique artistic language.

ROOM 3 : THE QUEST FOR A STYLE: STILL LIFES
An exhibition room has been specifically devoted to still lifes—a timeless theme in the history of art that the two artists focused on and which enabled them to develop their own distinctive style. While Picasso produced works with no vanishing point through the decomposition of form, Botero abandoned proportions. The influence of classicism, particularly in the treatment of the volumes, is particularly marked in his work, in which the still lifes are sometimes monumental.

ROOM 4 : THE NUDE, OR THE ART OF DISTILLING SENSUALITY
Like the still life, the female nude is a genre to which Botero has constantly and repeatedly returned throughout his career, particularly when he feels a need to replenish himself by respecting the fundamental values of painting. Like every other painter, he knows that the most commonplace forms (the human figure, a piece of fruit, etc.) are also the most difficult to understand and represent.

ROOM 5 : A FILM « BOTERO DIALOGUE AVEC PICASSO » (« BOTERO: A DIALOGUE WITH PICASSO »)
A video room presents a unique interview with Botero, answering questions about his work and that of Picasso.

ROOM 6 : REPRESENTATIONS OF HISTORICAL EVENTS
Twentieth-century artists who witnessed the history of their respective countries, Botero and Picasso endeavoured to represent political and social events, including the most dramatic events. In both artists’ works, the theme of violence led to an extensive distortion of the faces and an explosion of forms. From the South-American dictatorships in the twentieth century to the street assassinations in Colombia and earthquakes, Botero is a witness of tragic events, who believes that he has a responsibility, as an artist, to be a man of his time. Botero also stated that «When one paints, one must use colour with great care and to best effect. It is to some extent an act of love. Painting transforms hate into love».

ROOM 7 : BULLS AND BULLFIGHTERS: A PASSION FOR BULLFIGHTING
A sublimation of violence, the representation of bullfighting is one of Botero’s favourite themes, which became a veritable part of Western artistic tradition, thanks in particular to Picasso and his numerous representations. Hence, a large part of the exhibition has been devoted to paintings and drawings of bullfighters, picadors, dying bulls, and other bullfighting scenes.

ROOM 8 : ACROBATS AND TRAVELLING PERFORMERS: THE POETRY OF THE CIRCUS
Popular traditions are part of the cultural heritage of Botero and Picasso. Like bullfighting, several popular means of expression that originate in Hispanic and Colombian tradition drew the interest of the two artists: the circus and travelling shows. The colours of Botero’s travelling performers, the positions in which his acrobats are represented, and the melancholy of his Pierrots (clowns) are in many ways reminiscent of the many works that Picasso produced on these themes.

ROOM 9 : MUSIC, MAESTRO! DANCERS AND MUSICIANS
Like Picasso, Botero combines scholarly and popular references in his work, but in no hierarchical order. Apparently ‘minor’ themes, such as street concerts, balls, and fairgrounds are enhanced in his characteristically large-format paintings, while attesting to a deep attachment to his origins and the archaic and popular imaginary world of Colombia.





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