Still Life With Green Soup – Fernando Botero Angulo (b.1932) is a renowned Colombian figurative artist and sculptor. Botero is known for his signature style – the “Boterismo”. The figurative artist has been using it for ages to depict figures in massive and exaggerated volumes. Boterismo is his formal way of effectively expressing the form of sensuality and giving monumentality to his subjects. Although Mona Lisa, Age Twelve is his most notable work, Botero’s collection features a wide array of paintings including Still Life with Green Soup.
Still Life with Green Soup 1972: Brief Overview
Painter: Fernando Botero
Date of art creation: 1972
The Type of Art movement: Naive Art (Primitivism)
Genre: Still life
Theme: dinner, dishware and cutlery, food and beverages, animals, and cat.
Still Life with Green Soup
Botero loved to use the still life genre and most of his popular works are specifically rooted in this artistic tradition. He would draw robust and eye-catching characters with sensual shapes. This included fruits, animals, and other objects that captured his imagination.
Generally, his work featured scenes related to everyday activities, and what could possibly happen in real life. Well, this was based on the Old Master paintings, something that he experienced while studying as a young artist during the 1950s in Europe.
Fernando Botero Still Life with Green Soup 1972: Presentation
Still Life with Green Soup clearly highlights Botero’s ability as a creative master. He was paying homage to the traditional still life type of painting genre that has been in use for centuries. This painting reflects his creative genius that could be found only in his work. They include critical, comical, colossal, and documentary-like traits.
Still Life with Green Soup 1972 is a painting that was heavily influenced by Jan Davidson and Jan Van Eyck, two of the most popular Dutch masters in the 17th century. Botero makes a theatrical introduction of his subjects who are mainly found on the table surface.
The meal table features several warm color hues of green, yellow, brown, white, black, and pink. Generally, these hues seem inviting to the viewer, and it seems like this amazing table set-up ready for consumption.
The soup in this painting takes the center stage. Its position as well as the color shading gives it a bold display. It’s served in a large porcelain terrine. During the ancient types, a porcelain terrine wasn’t associated with luxury and, therefore, it’s clear that this meal set-up was a general class family.
However, there is a big cat, with its paws drawing close to the terrine. The cat is depicted in its stillness, its hand mid-air with its face on the viewer. This diverting moment is not only contradicting as to who was expected to savor the soup but also brings in a sense of comforting intimacy. The playful and cheeky cat isn’t waiting for the human companion to show up! While the cat and the soup are our main interest, there are also other foods varieties and cutlery such as bananas, forks, long burn pieces of bread, plates, a piece of watermelon, a pot and kettle among others
Botero’s Use of Still Life Genre
In his Still Life painting genre, the artist uses an arrangement of inanimate objects (those that don’t show any signs of life) as subjects. It’s worth noting that most notable objects are set on the table, especially organic and edible subjects such as fruits. Besides that, the artist has used other household items including kitchenware and furniture. History of the Still Life genre dates back to the 16th century. It’s a derivation of Stilleven, a Dutch word that was popular in the 1500s.
Fernando Botero Still Life with Green Soup Style
There is a contrasting familiarity of detail found in this painting. While the cat is supposedly alive, there is some form of stillness in it. It’s put in a statue-like position, with its paw hanging midair. Botero used various moments that bought out reflection as well as warm, expected color hues. But why did he use this genre of painting? Well, here are some of the reasons why:
- Availability of the subjects: you can easily find the subjects in this artwork at any home. Food, a cat, table, and cutlery are some of the things that you can’t miss in most homes. He uses the still subjects to create a welcoming environment that is bold and serene.
- The painting highlights the versatile skills of the artist. All the subjects are inevitably varied due to their nature. So, Botero used a mix of different color hues to bring out subjects with varying levels of intensities. The wall, door, cat, kettle, and soup have deeper color shades that bring out bold subjects.
- The painting features various realistic and abstracted forms of various surfaces. Botero adds details to ensure that different surfaces can distinctly and naturally stand out as realistically as possible. The wall, the door, table, tabletop, and the cat are all different surfaces with various abstracted forms. Before rendering the painting, Botero used different textures with various levels of luminosity and translucency. You will find that the texture of the wall and the fabric are quite different from organic subjects such as fruits.
The cat, even in its still state looks obese. Is it from consuming too much green soup? Well, while Botero loves to concentrate on situational portraiture, he also has a distinct like of creating subjects that are proportionally exaggerated or simply fat figures. According to him, he adopted this style intuitively.
In the 17th century, the adoption of Still Life Genre was mean to highlight the surge in economic and cultural prominence. However, even in the 20th and 21st centuries, the situation is still the same. The breakdown of these subjects indicates that the “potential diners” belonged to a certain class. The cutlery, soup, fruits, plus what appears to be a dining chair depicts a lower-class home. This is a basic meal for a general and not aristocratic individual. However, the obese cat indicates something else, a well-fed animal that constantly eats to its fill.
Still Life with Green Soup is a realistic genre. The motionless subjects in addition to the rotund cat have some form of humor, satire, and also socio commentary overtones. It perfectly demonstrates the virtuosity of various subjects in life and with a sense of domesticity. This is a sanctuary that can be found in any home setting thanks to the cutlery and cat that form part of modern homes.
Other Works by Fernando Botero
- Mona Lisa, Age Twelve (1959): it’s one of his first commissioned works that highlight how Mona Lisa would have looked like at the age of 12. However, what you see in this painting is not what you would have expected. Botero used a green color shade to create an enormous head for Mona Lisa. Besides that, the young girl appears to be slightly deranged and this is probably where his love for rotund subjects with exaggerated proportions kicked in.
- Dead Bishops (1965): Botero was influenced by religion as well as the renaissance. It’s reminiscent of the conservative catholic society which he grew up in and how the church affected various aspects of life including daily habits to politics. This painting features a mountain of dead priests who lay collectively without any sign of violence.
- Still Life (1970): this is one of his most popular and developed pieces of work. Reviews show that Botero actually hit a high level of excellence with the Still Life painting. He depicts a voluptuous watermelon with exaggerated physical proportions.
- Dancing in Colombia (1980): Botero was a gifted artist who was also a great storyteller. Much of his work is influenced by his native Colombia origins, as seen in Dancing in Colombia. This is a lively café that seems to be a bit overcrowded. There is a band of voluptuous men and a woman holding massive musical instruments. There is also a couple on the dance floor that is littered with fruits and cigarettes. It’s quite a seedy place
- A Family (1995): this artist also loved to explore the traditional family setting as depicted in this work and others. According to him, families are great subjects due to the complexity of their composition. There are two women in this painting, a mother nursing her young one and a nanny handling another young one with two other children in between them.
- The Death of Pablo Escobar (1999): Pablo Escobar was a narcoterrorist who died in 1993. Botero, in his own version, depicts the notorious drug lord on the rooftop, holding a gun and falling with several bullets making an aim to his body.
Conclusion & Takeaway
The magic in Botero’s painting lies in his ability to significantly distort in proportional measures of his subjects. Whether its humor, social, or political theme, Botero’s signature style features voluptuous and exaggerated subjects. His unique style that involves hyper-inflated figures has led to the creation of some of the most popular artworks in both the 20th and 21st centuries.
Fernando Botero is still alive. He has been married thrice and has four children. He splits his time living and working between Tuscany Italy, New York, and Paris, France.