The Way of the Cross by Fernando Botero in a $16 million book

The Way of the Cross by Fernando Botero in a $16 million book
The Way of the Cross by Fernando Botero in a $16 million book

In 2012, Fernando Botero donated his series Way of the Cross to the Museum of Antioquia, a work that is of great importance to the master, so much so that he wanted to keep it complete, and after the publication of the book Womenasked that it be the next work to be immortalized under the Artika label

Macarena de Eguilior, editorial director, shared that the artist was very involved in the edition, approved the color tests, signed two hundred copies and wanted the world launch to take place at the Museo de Antioquia, compared to the originals that are now printed with careful, just in the year that his 90th birthday is celebrated.

The project required four years of development and mobilized the Museum, which gladly provided access to the works. In addition, the book contains two texts. The first, by the director María del Rosario Escobar, tells the story of the donation and the transformation process that the city has undergone thanks to this gift; and the second is by the curator Camilo Castaño, who analyzes the drawings that are part of the series.

The other signatures are those of Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former director general of UNESCO, which shows the great contribution of the artist in terms of the universalization of culture and art; and that of David Ebony, an American critic, who reviews the characteristics that make up the Botero style.

The volume closes with a complete chronology of the master’s exhibitions around the world, illustrated with their respective posters, to show the magnitude of the journey that his work has made over time.

The edition of Way of the Cross makes it possible to appreciate the works as faithfully as possible in print, as well as access their studio. The cover of the volume is an unpublished image, printed on canvas: a silhouetted detail of the oil close to the cross (2010), belonging to the artist’s private collection.

Inside there are two volumes, which are joined with three rubber points, which bring together the sheets accompanied by biblical quotes, printed on semi-transparent red paper. All in a case that incorporates two transparent methacrylate plates, which function as showcases for the front and back covers, which are portraits of Ruven Afanador.

The side frame of the case is made of red lacquered wood with an embossed signature of the artist, it is removable. There are 2,998 copies, 200 of the edition are signed. They are such exclusive books that it is better to touch them with gloves because they are considered works in themselves.


The Via Crucis

For an artist whose work is celebration and pleasure, avoiding pain, when it becomes more present, is impressive. This is how it is in the work of master Botero, according to the curator Castaño. The tragedy that follows voluptuousness is stronger, as in Pedro on horseback, imprint of one of the greatest pains in the life of the artist. Also that pain can be search and study.

Castaño explains that the series of Way of the Cross It is an example of how studious Botero is with the history of art, his eagerness to review it with foreign eyes (from the Latin American periphery) and enroll in it, paying homage to his most admired colleagues, such as the Renaissance.

“With his style, Botero covers European painting, from the year 1200 to the irruption of the Baroque, through references to great works by Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo or Velázquez, among others”, explains Artika’s communication.

For Castaño, this work is an example of how one of the main themes of Botero’s work is painting itself, the study of colors, shapes, perspectives and references. The greatest passion of the artist.

“Each painting that we have from this series, each drawing is an opportunity to look from the point of view of this great observer of art history, how he breaks down the creative solutions that artists had to assume over time to represent things that they are very complex,” explains Castaño.

What the works say

In the Museum, not all the works of the series are exhibited, but there are key pieces that allow to show details of the themes tackled by Botero. Perhaps the most important is “Christ is dead”, which shows Jesus crucified in the middle of Central Park, the same color of rusty green as the Statue of Liberty, dying while passersby ignore him. A critique of indolent times, as well as a way of remembering the theme of dedications, explains Castaño.

There is also a version of “Michelangelo’s Pietà”, which addresses the tenderness of a disheartened mother’s love and highlights the sculptor’s work. The figure of Mary would have to be much larger than Christ, if it were a faithful representation, so that the set of mother and son would look like this, but the Italian master resorts to artifice in pursuit of the harmony of the whole, of the representation of pain, a trick that Botero, as a great student, reveals, explains Castaño. To this is added that he brings the subject closer to Colombia and to violence, which is part of his interest. The same image can refer to the pain of mothers who day by day lose their children victims of war.

Although it is a religious theme, in the Via Crucis there are few more “mythological” figures of the biblical narrative. Yes, there is Jesus crucified, the suffering Virgin, the betrayal of Judas, but as soon as an angel appears, the pain is mediated “as in front of a mirror,” explains Castaño.

Now the experience of that mirror is in a luxury format, in a book that costs 8,000 euros (about 36 million pesos), if it is the Roman edition signed by the master, and 4,500 euros (about $16,000,000) for the rest.

It may interest you: Can’t go to the museum? See more than 100 works by Botero for free and online

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