Rape of Europa, otherwise known as the Abduction of Europa, is an urban sculpture by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero made in 1992. This one is located between the car park and the arrivals terminal T1 of the Adolfo Suárez Madrid – Barajas Airport.
It symbolizes Europe riding on a bull, which is none other than Zeus who has turned into an animal to be able to approach the woman, moments before running towards the sea, and swimming to Crete. There are two other copies of this sculpture in Chicago, and Medellín, the Colombian sculptor’s hometown.
Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian figurative artist. His works feature a figurative style, called by some “Boterismo”, which gives them an unmistakable identity. Botero depicts women, men, daily life, historical events and characters, milestones of art, still-life, animals and the natural world in general, with exaggerated and disproportionate volumetry, accompanied by fine details of scathing criticism, irony, humor, and ingenuity.
There are five sculptures by Botero in Spain. They arrived with 21 pieces that were part of the “Botero in Madrid” exhibition, which took place in the spring of 1994, and which remained in the city.
Fernando Botero Angulo was a Colombian figurative artist and sculptor who died in 2023. He was considered the most recognized and quoted artist from Latin America in his lifetime, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs-Élysées in Paris, at different times.
Self-styled “the most Colombian of Colombian artists”, he came to national prominence when he won the first prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1958. He began creating sculptures after moving to Paris in 1973, achieving international recognition with exhibitions around the world by the 1990s. His art is collected by many major international museums, corporations, and private collectors, sometimes selling for millions of dollars.
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At the age of 16 Botero had his first illustrations published in the Sunday supplement of El Colombiano, one of the most important newspapers in Medellín. He used the money he was paid to attend high school at the Liceo de Marinilla de Antioquia. Many years later, In 2012, he received the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.
On 10 June 1995 a bomb containing 10 kg of dynamite was placed underneath one of Botero’s bronze sculptures on display in Medellín’s Plaza San Antonio. The resulting explosion killed 23 people and injured 200 more; the perpetrators were never identified. A horrified Botero decided that the damaged sculpture should be left in place as a “monument to the country’s imbecility and criminality” and donated an intact replica to stand alongside it.