BOGOTA – The Fernando Botero Prize will no longer be given out due to the artist’s recent comments about juries and the quality of the works that won the award, Fundacion Jovenes Artistas Colombianos director Maria Elvira Pardo told the press.
The decision to stop handing out the prize, which carried a $50,000 cash award, was made by the foundation’s management council several days ago, the El Tiempo newspaper reported on its Web site.
The foundation cited Botero’s statements to Arcadia magazine that he was unhappy because the winning works “seemed very bad” as the reason for its decision.
Colombia’s most famous painter, known worldwide for his depiction of enticingly fat subjects in often whimsical settings, also told the magazine that the international jury had “given out the prizes badly.”
The foundation said it found the statements by Botero, who was born in the northwestern city of Medellin in 1932, strange because he had expressed support for a contemporary art competition, an event that could yield works that were different from his tastes.
“After reading these very unequivocal statements about young artists in Colombia, we decided that it was impossible to give out the prize that he wanted to give out. It’s not worth doing it that way,” Pardo said.
The prize, which was given out between 2005 and 2008, was considered one of the richest in Latin America for artists younger than 35.
Botero began his artistic career in 1948 as an illustrator for the El Colombiano newspaper and starting in 1952 he traveled to Spain, France and Italy, where he studied the great masters.
At age 26, he was named a professor of painting at the School of Fine Arts at the Universidad Nacional in Bogota.