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Colombian artist Fernando Botero dies at 91

Colombian artist Fernando Botero, who was known for depicting figures in voluptuous and rotund proportions, died Friday in Monaco, according to multiple reports. He was 91.

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In a statement on social media, Colombian President Gustavo Petro confirmed Botero’s death.

“Fernando Botero has died, the painter of our traditions and defects, the painter of our virtues. The painter of our violence and peace,” he wrote.

Botero’s daughter, Lina Botero, told a Colombian radio station that her father died Friday morning of pneumonia complications, according to The Associated Press. He also had Parkinson’s disease, close friend Mauricio Vallejo told The Washington Post.

Botero began his career in art when he began selling illustrations to his hometown newspaper, El Colombiano, when he was 17, according to the Los Angeles Times. Over the years, he developed his signature style – known as “Boterismo” – and enjoyed enormous popularity, with his works earning him space in museums and public spaces across the globe, AFP reported. His art featured whimsical depictions of life in Colombia and later tackled more serious subjects, including the decades-long drug war in his native country and the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

“My popularity has to do with the divorce between modern art, where everything is obscure, and the viewer who often feels he needs a professor to tell them whether it’s good or not,” Botero told the Times in 2012. “I believe a painting has to talk directly to the viewer, with composition, color and design, without a professor to explain it.”

He had three children with his first wife, Gloria Zea: Fernando, Lina and Juan Carlos, the AP reported. With his second wife, Ceceilia Zambrano, he had a son named Pedro who died at age 4 in a car accident in Spain. In 1978, Botero married Greek sculptor Sophia Vari, who died in May, according to the Post.

Botero is survived by his children Fernando, Lina and Juan Carlos; a brother and several grandchildren, the newspaper reported.

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