Botero’s inflated figures can be understood as both a celebration and a criticism. While some see the obese, infantile forms as a parody of the childish, disgusting behavior of the bourgeois, others read his portly figures as an attempt to beautify fatness. The prominent Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa states, “We live in a civilization that has decided that fatness is a sickness, fatness is ugly, something that should be avoided. One of the merits of Fernando Botero, who has never been afraid of going against the current, is to vindicate fatness as beauty.” However, none of these interpretations can be substantiated for the artist regards his work solely as a formal exercise in aesthetics. Thus, the jury is out, and all that can be said for sure about Botero is that his Man on a Horse fits into a long line of equestrian statues from the Marcus Aurelius to the Gattamelata to St. Louis’s very ownApotheosis of Saint Louis.
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