Fine Tuning: Man with a Guitar

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Fernando Botero, Man with a Guitar, 1948
Fine Tuning
By NATALIE BEYER

Fernando Botero, before becoming an artist known for his oversized depiction of people, nature, and animals, went to a matador school. He was born in Columbia, Spain in 1932 and in 1948, when he was just sixteen years old, he had his first painting exhibition. Just two years later, he would have his first one man show in Bogota. In his early years of art, he was inspired by the pre-Columbian and political murals of Diego Rivera and he would copy famous paintings from artists and sell them to tourists on the streets. He was married three different times and is currently married to Sophia Vari, a Greek artist.

By the 1950s, he had mastered his style of painting oversized people and often his paintings suggest an element of political satire. He uses bright color and flat dimensions most similar to Latin-American folk art. In most of his paintings, he paints people in situational portraiture or centering his models in the center of his easel. Just as the man with his guitar is sitting in this painting, many or all of his paintings are similar.

Man with a Guitar was painted for the same first exhibition of Fernando Botero in 1948. The inflated man in this painting holds a balloon-esqe guitar that rests on his right leg. (Definition of a Guitar: a flat-bodied stringed instrument with a long fretted neck and usually six strings played with a pick or with the fingers). Although the man seems to not have any strings on his guitar and he stares into space as though he has no idea why he is holding a guitar, Botero was able to capture the image of a musician. A red ribbon also sits on the headstock of the guitar. Could it be that he just received this particular guitar as a gift? Or could he be showing the viewer how to play so that they can have the guitar?

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