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Society Woman, 2003Oil on canvas 61 h x 48 w in 155 h x 122 w cm
Society Woman is a colossal portrait of a dazzling woman that exemplifies Botero’s endless fascination with the age-old tradition of the female form. The painting depicts a voluptuous woman in a red gown with blushed cheeks and brilliant red hair twisted in a matching red bow. The red dress drapes around her round figure, elegantly dangling from her arms and flowing over her body. The details of her glamorous beaded pearl necklace, two gold bracelets, emerald earrings, gloves, pink nail polish, and tasseled purse, all create an ambiance of high society. This classical depiction of a society woman is rendered in Botero’s rotund technique, paying homage to his European predecessors in a distinct Latin American style. The exaggerated shape of her body is a site for experimentation, as it allows Botero to apply more color, delicate shading for dimension, and a sensuality and profusion of form. This oil on canvas painting is both satirical and graceful, as it enchants and engages the viewer through art historical references of the female form and high societal themes dating back through time. Perhaps like in many of his other works, Botero is satirically portraying Latin American high society presidents, first ladies, or government officials, by hinting at their inflated sense of importance with their voluminous bodies.
The whimsical proportions of Society Woman is 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.