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This article, dated October 14, 1981, describes the death and burial of Antonio Berni, the artist, and mentions the official visitors at his funeral service.
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 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. Since the 1930s, the history of art had perceived Antonio Berni as the most political voice in Argentine artistic circles. A little-studied facet of his life, however, concerns his actions during the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-83).This article about Antonio Berni’s funeral in October 1981 shows—as did other news stories that mentioned the artist’s relationship with the oppressor, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera— how the upper echelons of the military dictatorship, including the de facto president, General Roberto Viola, paid tribute to the deceased artist. The funeral chapel, decorated with Berni’s oil painting Domingo en la chacra [Sunday at the Farm], was set up in the Centro Cultural General San Martín [General San Martin Cultural Center], which was hallowed ground in official circles. In 1980, the artist’s political stance vis-á-vis the military regime began to change with his creation of the worker-Christ figures and, particularly, in works such as Enigma doloroso [Painful Enigma], which refers to the people who disappeared. The news item from the Crónica newspaper was chosen to be included here, since that was the newspaper read by the working and poorer classes.