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    Sacsahuaman / Antonio Berni
    Saber Vivir (Buenos Aires, Argentina). -- Vol. 3, no. 22 (may. 1942)
    p. 27 : ill.
    Journal article – Essays
    Berni, Antonio. "Sacsahuaman." Saber Vivir (Buenos Aires), vol. 3, no. 22 (May 1942): 27.

This is a brief literary essay by Antonio Berni on pre-Columbian structures atSacsahuaman (Cuzco), Machu Picchu, Peru, in which he suggests a way to understand the culture of the Incas by means of intuition or thought.  


Antonio Berni was born in Rosario, Province of Santa Fe, in 1905 and died inBuenos Airesin 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 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 Estero.  These 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 the ’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 essay reveals Berni’s literary abilities, especially when he’s describing his reaction to the pre-Columbian structures he saw in Peru. Berni visited the Andean countries in 1941, on a grant from the Comisión Nacional de Cultura. His travels began in La Paz and later took him to Columbia, and this trip was what informed his fundamental understanding of the art and the reality of Latin America. While he was in the area, Berni lectured on the techniques of modern painting and mural painting. In this essay he suggests a way to approach the art of the Incas, and explains how we might catch a glimpse of those bygone times.  
It is interesting to see how Berni’s methodology and literary language change depending on whether he is talking about European or pre-Columbian history. His basic premise is that modern Latin American art is descended from the earlier version, and that some think the later version is not easily understood. On the other hand, Berni reviewed colonial art in other articles published in La Prensa during that same period, and deemed it a most unique place from which to rethink the originality of the art of the Americas. 

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fundación Espigas.