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A fortunate few cities have the luxury of being identified with an internationally famous artist who inevitably ends up being an ambassador of sorts for his or her home town. Colombia‘s second largest city (and very up and coming destination) Medellín is a perfect example, because this is the stomping grounds of Latin America‘s best known living artist, Fernando Botero, whose double-wide work is instantly recognizable by many across the world.
One of the prime visitor attractions of capital Bogotá is the Botero Museum in its historic core, La Candelaria, but for many around the world, the 83-year-old dean of Latin American art is represented by his outdoor public installations, many in prestigious spots including the Champs-Elysées of Paris, New York City‘s Park Avenue, and Les Rambles in Barcelona.
And though Botero these days lives mostly in Paris, his home town has unsurprisingly turned into something of an indoor/outdoor museum of his work, largely (so to speak) donated by the artist. Here are the spots where fans can get an ample eyeful:
Named for the Colombian state of which Medellín is the capital, this is the city’s most popular museum, and one of the country’s important. Located very near the center of the city alongside Berrío Park (site of various other outdoor Botero sculptures), it’s worth a nice long visit thanks to its wide-ranging collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures curated to present and explain the maestro’s opus and artistic vision. It’s also known for excellent temporary exhibitions of Colombian and international contemporary artists.
Right out in front of the Antioquia Museum, you’ll find another, open-air museum of Botero in the 75,000-plus-square-foot (7,000-sq.-meter) plaza renamed for him, and since 2004 adorned with 23 monumental bronze sculptures such as Man on Horseback (top), Eve, and Hand. Some of these works by now have lower areas rubbed shiny for good luck by the countless visitors who pass through here every week.
Plaza de San Antonio
Also known as San Antonio Park, this also center-city square’s 355,210 sq. feet (3.3 hectares) are home to a pair of the artist’s most iconic public sculptures: Naked Torso (right) and The Bird. You’ll notice, however, that the latter is here in duplicate, and that one of the pair is damaged. This was kept as a reminder of the bad old days of the 1990s in this city and country, when one particularly tragic (and still unsolved) incidents of the violence then wracking the city was a bomb planted under this statue that killed 29 people. Botero asked it be preserved as a memorial and added the duplicate. Fortunately, those bad old days are an ever receding memory.
All of which helps prove that especially when it comes to Botero, as the saying goes: “go big or go home”.