Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this article, Antonio Berni reviews the exhibition of drawings by Ramón Gómez Cornet at the Viau Gallery (Buenos Aires, 1940) which, in his opinion, represent something new in Argentine art—something with a strong connection to the earth. Berni defines Gómez Cornet’s work as a form of suggestive realism that is also an expression of the avant-garde because it inspires a new sensitivity. Berni muses on art criticism and on the language that artists should use when they write.  

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Antonio Berni was born in Rosario, Province of Santa Fe, in 1905 and died in Buenos Aires, in 1981. Berni went to Europe in 1925 to study art. He settled in Paris, where he became involved with the Surrealist avant-garde and began exploring the Communist theories that were in vogue at the time. On his return to Argentina, he arranged an exhibition of his Surrealist works at the Asociación Amigos del Arte in 1932. A year later, Berni joined the Equipo Polígrafo (the group founded by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros), which created the mural called Ejercicio Plástico [Plastic Exercise]. His theory of Nuevo Realismo [New Realism], an artistic expression of political and social commitment, evolved out of his vision of transcendent realism. In 1944, Berni founded the Taller de Arte Mural [Mural Art Workshop]. During the 1950s, he produced a number of paintings that depicted rural life, set mainly in the northern Argentine province of Santiago del EsteroThese were, in fact, the first chapters in his narrative series of collages featuring his character Juanito Laguna. In 1962, he was awarded the grand prize for print and drawing at the Venice Biennale. The following year he began his Ramona Montiel series. During ’60s and ‘70s—while continuing to produce paintings, collages, and prints—he created objects, installations, and happenings, and explored stylistic variations in the field of realistic figuration.  

This document helps to understand Antonio Berni’s concept of realism in the early ’40s,  which was an extension of the texts on new realism that he produced in the previous decade. Of particular interest in this article is his use of the term "suggestive realism" to describe the work of Ramón Gómez Cornet. This review also reveals Berni’s growing interest in pictorial works that acknowledge a relationship with the earth.  

 Ramón Gómez Cornet (1898-1964), returned to Buenos Aires from Paris in 1921, and organized what is thought to be the first exhibition of avant-garde work ever held in Argentina. On his return to Santiago del Estero in the ’30s, he decided to use his art to portray the humble inhabitants of his native land.    This article by Antonio Berni was also published in Ediciones del Teatro del Pueblo [Publications of the Theater of the People] (Buenos Aires, 1940), the essential journal of theatrical realism, and in the Los Andes newspaper (Mendoza, February 9, 1941). 

Researcher
Roberto Amigo
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivo Berni. Copia en Fundación Espigas (materiales especiales, carpetas Archivo Berni).