Marcos Lucio Victoria
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.
In this interview, artist Antonio Berni explains his vision of North American culture, and contemporary art and techniques. He also speaks about his work in the print medium and his notion of realism.
Antonio Berni (1905–81) is one of the most important Argentine artists in the twentieth century. Starting in 1925, he studied in Europe, settling in Paris where he came into contact with the Surrealist avant-garde and communist ideas. Upon returning to Argentina in 1932, he showed his Surrealist works at the Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art]. The following year, he joined the Equipo Polígrafo [Graphic Work Team] founded by David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974). That group made the mural, Ejercicio Plástico [Visual Exercise], in Don Torcuato on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. His Nuevo Realismo [New Realism] theory was based on the idea of a transcendent realism by means of politically and socially committed art.In 1944, he started the Taller de Arte Mural [Mural Art Workshop]. In the fifties, he made paintings about rural workers, especially those from Santiago del Estero, a province in northern Argentina. This gave rise to his narrative series of painting-collages on Juanito Laguna. In 1962, he was awarded the Grand Prize for Prints and Drawings at the Venice Biennale. The following year, Berni began working on a print series on Ramona Montiel. Though he continued working in the media of painting, collage, and printmaking, Berni (who was from Rosario, Argentina) also made objects, installations, and happenings in the sixties and seventies while exploring stylistic variations of figurative realism. Due to his production from the thirties onward, Berni is considered the most political artist in the history of Argentine art. Nonetheless, his work on a number of fronts during the Argentine military dictatorship (1976–83), and until the time of his death in 1981, has been little studied. Berni appeared frequently in the press during those years and his name was always associated with the word “freedom.” Significantly, Pájaro de Fuego [Bird of Fire] (1977–80), the cultural magazine in which this interview was published, also contained interviews with public employees working in the cultural arena during the military dictatorship. In this interview, Berni speaks of his experiences in New York; his vision of North American culture, especially painting, appears to be less critical than it was in the late sixties. Here Berni speaks out against Conceptual Art and defends traditional techniques. This is one of the few documents in which Berni formulates the relationship between his idea of Nuevo Realismo [New Realism] and so-called “Magic Realism.”