The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This is the text of Antonio Berni’s lecture to the gathering on the artistic reality in Latin America, the media, and fashions imposed on art. He also underscores the relationship between art from the countries of the center and art from Latin America, adding some general comments on the art world and the art market, and on the value of art in a consumer society.
Antonio Berni was born in Rosario, Provincia de 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 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 is the text of Antonio Berni’s lecture to the Encuentro Iberoamericano de Críticos y Artistas Plásticos [Latin American Gathering of Critics and Visual Artists] in June, 1978, in Caracas, Venezuela. It is of great interest in terms of understanding Berni’s international public discourse during the military dictatorship in Argentina. It also reveals his general concerns in the ’70s, such as the media, fashions in art, the control exercised by business interests, the consumer society, the relationship between developed and developing countries, and the role of the artist in current society, among others.