When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Bullfights And Carnival, Botero's Bulging Homage To Picasso

Colombia's best known painter, Fernando Botero, was in France to open a joint exhibition of his works alongside those of Picasso. It is bound to be a reckoning.

Botero's horse sculpture arrives in France
Botero's horse sculpture arrives in France
Ricardo Abdahllah

AIX-EN-PROVENCE - Brought together in a restored palace in this southern French city are 80 paintings by two of the world's preeminent modern painters: Pablo Picasso and his renowned Colombian admirer, Fernando Botero. The exhibition, Botero, Dialogue Avec Picasso, reveals how Picasso — and other European masters — have inspired and delighted Botero, who in past decades has become one of the world's best-selling painters worldwide for his signature bloated, doll-like figures.

The show aims at a visual conversation between the two artists, who never met, and compensates a bit for the encounter that never happened. Yet as you enter the Hôtel de Caumont, the pictures clearly reveal the presence of other artists in this conversation. References are not uncommon in art history, but Picasso and Botero were particularly fond of and prolific in painting personalized versions of works by earlier masters.

And when Botero paints a Cranach the Younger or Velásquez, he is also painting Picasso's versions.

Pablo Picasso, La Danse villageoise, Paris, 1922 Musée national Picasso- Paris

"Had I met him," he says, "I guess I would have said I admired his work." Botero remains generous when talking about his art, and as he was peppered with questions at the recent inauguration, he would often pick up on a key word on which to base his reply. Walking into the Aix-en-Provence exhibition, he took a moment to observe his bronze, two-ton horse previously displayed in the Roman forum.

The Hôtel de Caumont, an 18th century town house amply refurbished in 2015, is showing some 60 of his paintings alongside 20 or so Picassos. Since its inauguration in 2015, the palazzo has hosted exhibitions of William Turner, the post-impressionist Alfred Sisley and of Canaletto, the painter of 18th century Venice. The latest show is part of the Picasso-Méditerranée project that explores his work in several exhibitions.

Painter is the style not the subject.

The show's curator, Cecilia Braschi, says the goal from the start was to devote this year's exhibition to Fernando Botero, in one form or another."The idea gradually emerged in our conversations to show his works in a shared space with a selection of works by Picasso, without wanting to impose specific links between them, but letting visitors discover them for themselves."

The correspondences appear anyway: Picasso's Massacre in Korea shares a room with Botero's Massacre at Eight Fifteen, both forming a dyptich and brutal reminder that barbaric acts barely change in appearance. Picasso's harlequin figures might have popped out of one of Botero's carnivals, which the show reveals have recently become his favored theme.

Not "the big official carnivals like Rio," he says. "I'm interested in the poor-man's carnival, where everyone takes part and dresses up and goes out into the street. The thing is, carnivals, like the circus, are already a painting: you have your composition, the colors, the movement," he explains.

Botero used to say the same about bullfighting. "Yes, bullfighting too," he says, "where you also have the line of the bullring that isn't the usual flat horizon." In this show, there are various bull paintings by both artists.

"There is one by him that fascinates me: the Torero's Death," Botero says. "Because although Picasso typically decomposes the figure, that is not the issue here, but the bull ripping the bullfighter's head off. I've seen them getting gored, it's part of the bullfight's violence, but never this level of brutality painted by Picasso."

What about this moment in art history? The history of art "will never stop," the Colombian artist says. "There will always be ruptures. The Renaissance has passed, as has Impressionism. Abstraction forced us to reconsider figurative art, and when abstract painters thought they were sitting on a throne, along came Pop art. Now conceptual art has become established, but I'm sure somewhere there are young artists cooking up the next art coup."

In 1998, Botero painted his portrait of Picasso that was, like this show, both homage and confrontation. While he is often told that unlike Picasso who explored so many styles, Botero is wedded to one, both share the curiosity to explore numerous subject matters. But Botero considers this less relevant. "The painter is not subject but style. If all you do is depict subjects, you are an illustrator, which is another profession," he says. "It took me 40 years to find a style and achieve paintings that are recognized as "Boteros'. I don't know what will happen in the future with what I have painted. But today, seeing my paintings hanging next to his, I can say I do not feel crushed by Picasso's works."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Profound And Simple Reason That Negotiations Are Not An Option For Ukraine

The escalation of war in the Middle East and the stagnation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive have left many leaders in the West, who once supported Ukraine unequivocally, to look toward ceasefire talks with Russia. For Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Piotr Andrusieczko argues that Ukraine simply cannot afford this.

Photo of Ukrainian soldiers in winter gear, marching behind a tank in a snowy landscape

Ukrainian soldiers ploughing through the snow on the frontlines

Volodymyr Zelensky's official Facebook account
Piotr Andrusieczko


KYIVUkraine is fighting for its very existence, and the war will not end soon. What should be done in the face of this reality? How can Kyiv regain its advantage on the front lines?

It's hard to deny that pessimism has been spreading among supporters of the Ukrainian cause, with some even predicting ultimate defeat for Kyiv. It's difficult to agree with this, considering how this war began and what was at stake. Yes, Ukraine has not won yet, but Ukrainians have no choice for now but to continue fighting.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

These assessments are the result of statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, and an interview with him in the British weekly The Economist, where the General analyzes the causes of failures on the front, notes the transition of the war to the positional phase, and, critically, evaluates the prospects and possibilities of breaking the deadlock.

Earlier, an article appeared in the American weekly TIME analyzing the challenges facing President Volodymyr Zelensky. His responses indicate that he is disappointed with the attitude of Western partners, and at the same time remains so determined that, somewhat lying to himself, he unequivocally believes in victory.

Combined, these two publications sparked discussions about the future course of the conflict and whether Ukraine can win at all.

Some people outright predict that what has been known from the beginning will happen: Russia will ultimately win, and Ukraine has already failed.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest