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.
Jorge Romero Brest, the art critic and director of the Centro de Artes Visuales [Center for the Visual Arts], writes about the style and attitude he sees in Antonio Berni’s work, discussing the changes that can be observed in the artist’s production over time.
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. The Centro de Artes Visuales del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella organized a retrospective of Antonio Berni’s work from 1922 through 1965, the year that the exhibition was held. Berni’s recent work caused some controversy: Los monstruos del infierno disputándose a Ramona [Monsters from Hell Challenge Ramona], from the series of objects he started producing in 1964 in which he realigned himself with Surrealist tradition (both in terms of their formal conception and in terms of their status as oneiric works that represented Ramona’s guilty dreams), which were presented within the framework of young avant-garde Argentine artists of that period. The exhibition was introduced by Jorge Romero Brest, the director of the Centro de Artes Visuales, with a prologue by Gérald Gassiot-Talabot, who had invited Berni to the Mythologies Quotidiennes [Day-to-Day Mythologies] exhibition at the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris the previous year. Berni’s exhibition then traveled to Cordoba and Santa Fe, two provincial capitals in Argentina. For the purposes of this document, the texts from the exhibition in Cordoba have been selected, since they indicate the impact of Berni’s work at the local level. The essay by Romero Brest is interesting in that it mentions the concepts of style and attitude in contemporary art.