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Card Players, 1991Oil on canvas 59.88 d x 71.25 w in. 152 d x 181 w cm
Card Players depicts three players seated around a table, two mustachioed and suited men and a rotund nude woman. Drawing from art history, Botero synthesized art historical genres of the female nude and high society with contemporary elements and themes from Latin American life, such as card playing. The voluptuous figures, all with amusing proportions of small hands and eyes, each hold a handful of green playing cards. Botero renders them and their objects (cups, cigarettes, table, etc.) in his signature round technique of ‘Boterismo.’ The exaggerated shapes are sites of experimentation, as they allow Botero to apply more color with a sensuality and profusion of form. A man peering into the room from behind a purple curtain and the glowing light bulb reflected in the mirror suggest the scene extends beyond the pictorial space. The small details of nail polished fingers, flower vase on the bureau, top hats, and cigarettes on the floor all create the ambiance. Perhaps Botero here, like in many of his other works, is satirically portraying Latin American high society presidents, first ladies, or government officials, by hinting at their inflated sense of importance with the exaggerated bodies.
Botero also incorporates his fascination with the age-old tradition of the female form into Card Players with the seated black haired woman. The classical depiction of a nude is rendered in Botero’s rotund technique, paying homage to his European predecessors in a distinct Latin American style. This oil on canvas painting is both satirical and graceful, as it enchants and engages the viewer through art historical references of the female form and high societal themes dating back through time.
The whimsical proportions of the card players are mirrored in Botero’s bronze sculptures of people and animals, such as Woman on Horse and Maternity. Botero’s monumental public sculptures can be found on the streets of New York and Paris, among others. His mastery of voluptuous fleshy figures has become his trademark style and is immediately recognizable as Botero’s creations around the world.