Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

In this essay, Bernardo Salcedo criticizes Fernando Botero’s paintings on the subject of violence in Colombia and other countries, accusing the well-known artist of hypocrisy. Salcedo claims that Botero did not choose to address the subject of violence because it was something that interested him—as a review of his earlier work shows—but because, as a commercial artist, he saw an opportunity to cater to a fad in the international market. Salcedo adds that Botero does not realize that the fashionable portrayal of violence speaks to those who call themselves activists and fake their political commitments. At the same time, Botero condones the broadcast of news videos that show him working on his paintings at his Colombian estates, elegantly dressed and accompanied by the bodyguards that protect him from being robbed by Colombian criminals. Salcedo suggests that Botero should have been satisfied by generously donating his own works and works by international artists to the Bogotá headquarters of the Banco de la República’s collection and the Antioquia Museum (in Medellín) in 2000; that gesture was not disrespectful to the Colombian people, unlike his works about violence.  


This article was published after Fernando Botero (b.1932), in a highly publicized gesture, donated his collection of twentieth-century art and paintings of his own to the museums at the Banco de la República in Bogotá and the Antioquia Museum in Medellín (both of them in 2000).

These works are now major attractions at both institutions. This essay was widely circulated, studied, and discussed in artistic and academic circles; but there was no great public response other than Botero’s verbal attack on its author—the Colombian artist Bernardo Salcedo (1939–2007)—in a telephone interview from his home in Paris (France) that was broadcast on the Colombian station La FM on the day the article appeared. 

Although Fernando Botero has enjoyed scant acceptance at academic and intellectual levels in Colombia since the 1980s, essays like this one by Salcedo—about Botero’s portrayal of violence—are unusual and referential due to his gigantic presence in the media and with the public. Critical attitudes to Botero are also expressed by a rock group called Odio a Botero [I Hate Botero] that was formed in Bogotá, where it is very popular, in 2000. Band members are graduates of various art training programs at Colombia’s Universidad Nacional.


María Iovino Moscarella
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Margarita and Pablo Salcedo, Bogotá, Colombia.
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia