Tampa Museum of Art Receives Botero Sculpture and $1 Million Gift from Jorge M. Perez

Fernando Botero (Colombian), Mujer Vestida, 1997, bronze, 126 x 62 x 62 inches.
Fernando Botero (Colombian), Mujer Vestida, 1997, bronze, 126 x 62 x 62 inches.

Tampa, FL (November 17, 2022) – The Tampa Museum of Art announced today that philanthropist and art collector Jorge M. Pérez bestowed a monumental sculpture by Colombian artist Fernando Botero and a $1 million cash gift to the Museum.

“We’re beyond delighted to receive this remarkable opportunity to further the Tampa Museum of Art’s commitment to collecting and exhibiting artwork that represents the cultural tapestry of our Tampa Bay region,” said Michael Tomor, Ph.D., the Penny and Jeff Vinik Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art. “We share Mr. Pérez’s commitment to building better cities and a better Florida, and the gift of art and $1 million donation will help the Museum continue to build art education and exhibition programming that is accessible to all community members.”

The towering bronze sculpture titled Mujer Vestida (Dressed Woman) formed part of the corporate collection of Pérez’s real estate development company, Related Group, and was most recently on view at the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa. Botero’s Mujer Vestida is a significant gift to the Tampa Museum of Art’s permanent collection, not only because of its importance as a work by a modern master, but because it continues growing TMA’s sculpture collection which also includes notable works by Jaume Plensa and Patricia Cronin and Latin American artist collection, which includes works by Oswaldo Vigas, José Bedia Valdés, Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera and Milhaud Vik Muñiz.

“Art is at the heart of any great city,” said Jorge M. Perez. “I’ve been fortunate to see the impact public art installations have on communities first hand, which is why we incorporate museum-quality art into every single one of our projects while also supporting local cultural organizations. This commitment stands true in Tampa Bay, especially as the Related team continues to deepen its involvement in the region. We look forward to working with the museum team to further enrich Tampa’s arts and culture ecosystem.”

Joanna Robotham, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art, said, “we’re so thrilled that the Botero sculpture will have a permanent home in Tampa. We couldn’t be more grateful for this very generous gift.”

Perez’s $1 million gift accompanying the Botero donation supports new and growing exhibition and studio art programming at the Museum that results from its Centennial Renovation and Expansion. Last week, the Museum premiered the first of several brand-new exhibition galleries with the exhibition Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Pérez Collection.

This week, the Museum opened its brand-new west lobby, Harrod Family Museum Store, and the entrance to its new first-floor gallery. Earlier this year, the Museum opened the new Vinik Family Education Center. With these improvements in place, the Museum anticipates quadrupling the number of students it serves per year, and the school tour program alone can grow from 6,000 to 24,000 students each year.  

Jorge M. Pérez

Jorge Pérez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Related Group, remains committed to building a better Florida, spearheading the state’s complex urban evolution for over 40 years. Starting out in Miami’s public housing market, Pérez’s passion for creating vibrant, urban communities has made him a trendsetter, often the first developer to enter undiscovered neighborhoods.

In addition to real estate development, Pérez is devoted to supporting arts and culture initiatives across the nation, as well as nurturing the artists and curators of the future. Thus, in 2019, Pérez established El Espacio 23, a 28,000-square-foot contemporary art space offering the general public, artists and curators access to a variety of exhibitions and residencies drawn from the world-renowned Jorge M. Pérez Contemporary Art Collection.

Fernando Botero and Mujer Vestida

The towering Mujer Vestida is one of Fernando Botero’s widely exhibited bronze sculptures. The masterpiece, gifted to the Tampa Museum of Art from the Related Group’s corporate collection, has been shown in major cities worldwide. An earlier version of this same piece was donated by Botero to the city of Medellín, Colombia on permanent view in the Plaza Botero. Despite its monumental scale, often associated only with commemorative statues, Botero has the innate ability to humanize his subjects rather than aggrandize them. As is the case with most of his sculptures, the figures are anonymous. Mujer Vestida is elegantly dressed and created in his signature witty and opulent style, meant to represent a specific type of woman rather than an individual.

Fernando Botero is one of the leading figures of art from Latin America and his distinctive style is instantly recognizable. His paintings, sculptures and drawings are exhibited and represented in museum collections throughout the world. Botero became interested in painting at an early age and began as an illustrator for Medellín’s local newspaper. He left Colombia for Europe in the 1950s and settled in New York in the 1960s where he experimented with gestural painting but instead chose to solidify what later became known as his signature, namely, smooth and inflated shapes and figures. His exaggerated compositions go beyond an aesthetic choice and can be political, ironic, and even humorous.