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Synopsis

Antonio Berni writes about developments in modern art and of formalism in art. He analyzes the artists who adhere to Nuevo Realismo [New Realism] and discusses the meaning of that movement.

Annotations

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. 

In this document, Antonio Berni defends Nuevo Realismo, expanding its interpretation to encompass the meaning of life as opposed to the bourgeois world. Berni presents Nuevo Realismo as an international movement that openly confronts the formalism of abstraction and the evasiveness of art based on dreams. Thus, this text sheds light on Berni’s position on the art controversies that took place during the Cold War, which he believes indicate that artists––from Pablo Picasso to the Brazilian avant-garde active in those years––followed their own calling. Significantly, Berni considered Nuevo Realismo a universal movement.

Researcher
Roberto Amigo
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivo Berni. Copia en Fundación Espigas (materiales especiales, carpetas Archivo Berni).