Antonio Berni

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Antonio Berni
AntonioBerni001.JPG
BornDelesio Antonio Berni
(1905-05-14)14 May 1905
Rosario, Argentina
Died 13 October 1981(1981-10-13) (aged 76)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine
Known for Painting, Engraving, Illustration, Collage
Notable workJuanito Laguna
Ramona Montiel
La Manifestación
Movement Nuevo Realismo

Delesio Antonio Berni (Rosario, 14 May 1905 - Buenos Aires, 13 October 1981) was an Argentine figurative artist. He is associated with the movement known as Nuevo Realismo ("New Realism"), a Latin American extension of social realism. His work, including a series of Juanito Laguna collages depicting poverty and the effects of industrialization in Buenos Aires, has been exhibited around the world.

Rosario, Santa Fe City of Rosario in Santa Fe, Argentina

Rosario is the largest city in the central Argentina province of Santa Fe. The city is located 300 km (186 mi) northwest of Buenos Aires, on the west bank of the Paraná River. Rosario is the third most populous city in the country, and is also the most populous city in Argentina that is not a provincial capital. With a growing and important metropolitan area, Greater Rosario has an estimated population of 1,276,000 as of 2012. One of its main attractions includes the neoclassical architecture that has been retained over the centuries in hundreds of residences, houses and public buildings.

Buenos Aires Place in Argentina

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina. The city is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the South American continent's southeastern coast. "Buenos Aires" can be translated as "fair winds" or "good airs", but the former was the meaning intended by the founders in the 16th century, by the use of the original name "Real de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre". The Greater Buenos Aires conurbation, which also includes several Buenos Aires Province districts, constitutes the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas, with a population of around 15.6 million.

Figurative art art that depicts real object sources

Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork that is clearly derived from real object sources and so is, by definition, representational. The term is often in contrast to abstract art:

Since the arrival of abstract art the term figurative has been used to refer to any form of modern art that retains strong references to the real world.

Contents

Biography

Berni in the 1920s Antonio Berni.jpg
Berni in the 1920s

Early life

Berni was born in the city of Rosario on May 14, 1905. [1] His mother Margarita Picco was the Argentine daughter of Italians. His father Napoleón, an immigrant tailor from Italy, died in the first World War. [2]

Immigration Movement of people into another country or region to which they are not native

Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker.

Tailor person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, typically mens clothing

A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

In 1914 Berni became the apprentice of Catalan craftsman N. Bruxadera at the Buxadera and Co. stained glass company. He later studied painting at the Rosario Catalá Center where he was described as a child prodigy. [3] In 1920 seventeen of his oil paintings were exhibited at the Salon Mari. On November 4, 1923 his impressionist landscapes were praised by critics in the daily newspapers La Nación and La Prensa. [2]

Catalonia Autonomous area of northeastern Spain

Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain on the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia. It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.

Impressionism 19th-century art movement

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities, ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. Impressionism originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.

<i>La Prensa</i> (Buenos Aires) Argentinian newspaper

La Prensa is an Argentine daily newspaper.

Paris

The Jockey Club of Rosario awarded Berni a scholarship to study in Europe in 1925. He chose to visit Spain, as Spanish painting was in vogue, particularly the art of Joaquín Sorolla, Ignacio Zuloaga, Camarasa Anglada, and Julio Romero de Torres. [1] But after visiting Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Granada, Córdoba, and Seville [3] he settled in Paris where fellow Argentine artists Horacio Butler, Aquiles Badi, Alfredo Bigatti, Xul Solar, Héctor Basaldua, and Lino Enea Spilimbergo were working. He attended "City of Lights" workshops given by André Lhote and Othon Friesz at Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Berni painted two landscapes of Arcueil, Paisaje de París (Landscape of Paris), Mantel amarillo (The Yellow Tablecloth), La casa del crimen (The House of Crime), Desnudo (Nude), and Naturaleza muerta con guitarra (Still Life with Guitar). [1] [2]

Jockey Club de Rosario rugby union team

Jockey Club de Rosario is an Argentine sports and social club from Rosario, Santa Fe.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Joaquín Sorolla Spanish painter

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was a Spanish painter. Sorolla excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of his native land and sunlit water.

He went back to Rosario for a few months but returned to Paris in 1927 with a grant from the Province of Santa Fe. Studying the work of Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, Berni became interested in surrealism and called it "a new vision of art and the world, the current that represents an entire youth, their mood, and their internal situation after the end of the World War. A dynamic and truly representative movement." His late 1920s and early 1930s surrealist works include La Torre Eiffel en la Pampa (The Eiffel Tower in Pampa), La siesta y su sueño (The Nap and its Dream), and La muerte acecha en cada esquina (Death Lurks Around Every Corner). [2] [4]

Santa Fe Province Province of Argentina

The Province of Santa Fe is a province of Argentina, located in the center-east of the country. Neighboring provinces are from the north clockwise Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero. Together with Córdoba and Entre Ríos, the province is part of the economico-political association known as the Center Region.

Giorgio de Chirico Italian artist

Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian artist and writer. In the years before World War I, he founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. After 1919, he became interested in traditional painting techniques, and worked in a neoclassical or neo-Baroque style, while frequently revisiting the metaphysical themes of his earlier work.

René Magritte Belgian surrealist painter

René François Ghislain Magritte was a Belgian Surrealist artist. He became well known for creating a number of witty and thought-provoking images. Often depicting ordinary objects in an unusual context, his work is known for challenging observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality. His imagery has influenced Pop art, minimalist and conceptual art.

He also began studying revolutionary politics including the Marxist theory of Henri Lefebvre, who introduced him to the Communist poet Louis Aragon in 1928. [5] [6] Berni continued corresponding with Aragon after leaving France, later recalling, "It is a pity that I have lost, among the many things I have lost, the letters that I received from Aragon all the way from France; if I had them today, I think, they would be magnificent documents; because in that correspondence we discussed topics such as the direct relationship between politics and culture, the responsibilities of the artist and the intellectual society, the problems of culture in colonial countries, the issue of freedom." [4]

Revolution fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time

In political science, a revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression. In book V of the Politics, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described two types of political revolution:

  1. Complete change from one constitution to another
  2. Modification of an existing constitution.
Marxism economic and sociopolitical worldview based on the works of Karl Marx

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Henri Lefebvre French philosopher

Henri Lefebvre was a French Marxist philosopher and sociologist, best known for pioneering the critique of everyday life, for introducing the concepts of the right to the city and the production of social space, and for his work on dialectics, alienation, and criticism of Stalinism, existentialism, and structuralism. In his prolific career, Lefebvre wrote more than sixty books and three hundred articles.

Several groups of Asian minorities lived in Paris and Berni helped distribute Asian newspapers and magazines, to which he contributed illustrations. [2]

Desocupados (1934) Desocupados, Antonio Berni (1934).jpg
Desocupados (1934)

Nuevo Realismo

In 1931 Berni returned to Rosario where he briefly lived on a farm and was then hired as a municipal employee. The Argentina of the 1930s was very different from the Paris of the 1920s. He witnessed labor demonstrations and the miserable effects of unemployment [5] and was shocked by the news of a military coup d'état in Buenos Aires (see Infamous Decade). Surrealism didn't convey the frustration or hopelessness of the Argentine people. Berni organized Mutualidad de Estudiantes y Artistas and became a member of the local Communist party. [2]

Berni met Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros who had been painting large-scale political murals on public buildings and was visiting Argentina to give lectures and exhibit his work in an effort to "summon artists to participate in the development of a proletarian art." In 1933 Berni, Siqueiros, Spilimbergo, Juan Carlos Castagnino and Enrique Lázaro created the mural Ejercicio Plástico (Plastic Exercise). [7] [4] But ultimately Berni didn't think the murals could inspire social change and even implied a connection between Siqueiro's artwork and the privileged classes of Argentina, saying, "Mural painting is only one of the many forms of popular artistic expression...for his mural painting, Siqueros was obliged to seize on the first board offered to him by the bourgeoisie." [8]

Instead he began painting realistic images that depicted the struggles and tensions of the Argentine people. His popular Nuevo Realismo paintings include Desocupados (The Unemployed) and Manifestación (Manifestation). [5] Both were based on photographs Berni had gathered to document, as graphically as possible, the "abysmal conditions of his subjects." [9] As one critic noted, "the quality of his work resides in the precise balance that he attained between narrative painting with strong social content and aesthetic originality." [4]

In a 1936 interview Berni said that the decline of art was indicative of the division between the artist and the public and that social realism stimulated a mirror of the surrounding spiritual, social, political, and economic realities. [4] [5]

1940s and 1950s

In 1941, at the request of the Comisión Nacional de Cultura, Berni traveled to Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia to study pre-Columbian art. His painting Mercado indígena (Indian Market) is based on the photos he took during this trip. [2]

Two years later he was awarded an Honorary Grand Prix at the Salón Nacional and co-founded a mural workshop with fellow artists Spilimbergo, Juan Carlos Castagnino, Demetrio Urruchúa, and Manuel Colmeiro. The artists decorated the dome of the Galerías Pacifico. [1]

The 1940s saw various revolutions and coups d'état in Latin America including the ousting of Argentine President Ramón Castillo in 1943. Berni responded with more political paintings including Masacre (Massacre) and El Obrero Muerto (The Dead Worker). [2]

From 1951 to 1953 Berni lived in Santiago del Estero, a province in northwestern Argentina. The province was suffering massive ecological damage including the exploitation of quebracho trees. While in Santiago del Estero he painted the series "Motivos santiagueños" and "Chaco," which were later exhibited in Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Bucharest and Moscow. [2]

In the 1950s he returned to expressionism with works like Los hacheros (Axemen) and La comida (Food), [3] and began a series of suburban landscapes including Villa Piolín (Villa Tweety), La casa del sastre (House of Taylor), La iglesia (The Church), El tanque blanco (White Tank), La calle (Street), La res (The Answer), Carnicería (Carnage), La luna y su eco (The Moon and its Echo), and Mañana helada en el páramo desierto (Morning Frost on the Moor). He also painted Negro y blanco (Black and White), Utensilios de cocina sobre un muro celeste (Cookware on a Blue Wall), and El caballito (The Pony). [2]

Juanito tocando la flauta (1973) Juanito tocando la flauta, 1973.jpg
Juanito tocando la flauta (1973)

Juanito Laguna

Berni's post-1950s work can be viewed as "a synthesis of Pop Art and Social realism." [3] In 1958 he began collecting and collaging discarded material to create a series of works featuring a character named Juanito Laguna. [1] The series became a social narrative on industrialization and poverty and pointed out the extreme disparities existing between the wealthy Argentine aristocracy and the "Juanitos” of the slums. [5]

As he explained in a 1967 Le Monde interview, "One cold, cloudy night, while passing through the miserable city of Juanito, a radical change in my vision of reality and its interpretation occurred...I had just discovered, in the unpaved streets and on the waste ground, scattered discarded materials, which made up the authentic surroundings of Juanito Laguna - old wood, empty bottles, iron, cardboard boxes, metal sheets etc., which were the materials used for constructing shacks in towns such as this, sunk in poverty." [5]

Latin American art expert Mari Carmen Ramirez has described the Juanito works as an attempt to "seek out and record the typical living truth of underdeveloped countries and to bear witness to the terrible fruits of neocolonialism, with its resulting poverty and economic backwardness and their effect on populations driven by a fierce desire for progress, jobs, and the inclination to fight." [10] Notable Juanito works include Retrato de Juanito Laguna (Portrait of Juanito Laguna), El mundo prometido a Juanito (The World Promised to Juanito), and Juanito va a la ciudad (Juanito Goes to the City). Art featuring Juanito (and Ramona Montiel, a similar female character) won Berni the Grand Prix for Printmaking at the Venice Biennale in 1962. [1] [5]

In 1965 a retrospective of Berni's work was organized at the Instituto Di Tella, including the collage Monsters. Versions of the exhibit were shown in the United States, Argentina, and several Latin American countries. Compositions such as Ramona en la caverna (Ramona in the Cavern), El mundo de Ramona (Ramona's World), and La masacre de los inocentes (Massacre of the Innocent) were becoming more complex. The latter was exhibited in 1971 at the Paris Museum of Modern Art. By the late 1970s Berni's Juanito and Ramona oil paintings had evolved into three-dimensional altar pieces. [1]

La Espera (1978) La Espera, Antonio Berni (1978).jpg
La Espera (1978)

Later years and death

After the March 1976 coup, Berni moved to New York City, where he continued painting, engraving, collaging and exhibiting. New York struck him as luxurious, consumerist, materially wealthy and spiritually poor. He conveyed these observations in subsequent work with a touch of social irony. His New York paintings display a great protagonism of color [3] and include Aeropuerto (Airport), Los Hippies, Calles de Nueva York (Streets of New York), Almuerzo (Lunch), Chelsea Hotel and Promesa de castidad (Promise of Chastity). [2] He also produced several decorative panels, scenographic sketches, illustrations, and collaborations for books. [3]

Berni's work gradually became more spiritual and reflective. In 1980 he completed the paintings Apocalipsis (Apocalypse) and La crucifixion (The Crucifixion) for the Chapel of San Luis Gonzaga in Las Heras, where they were installed the following year. [1]

Antonio Berni died on October 13, 1981 in Buenos Aires where he had been working on a Martín Fierro monument. The monument was inaugurated in San Martín on November 17 of the same year. [1] In an interview shortly before his death he said, "Art is a response to life. To be an artist is to undertake a risky way to live, to adopt one of the greatest forms of liberty, to make no compromise. Painting is a form of love, of transmitting the years in art." [2]

Legacy

Since the late 1960s various Argentine musicians have written and recorded Juanito Laguna songs. Mercedes Sosa recorded the songs Juanito Laguna remonta un barrilete (on her 1967 album Para cantarle a mi gente) and La navidad de Juanito Laguna (on her 1970 album Navidad con Mercedes Sosa). In 2005 a compilation CD commemorating Berni's 100th birthday included songs by César Isella, Marcelo San Juan, Dúo Salteño, Eduardo Falú, and Las Voces Blancas, as well as two short recordings of Berni speaking in interviews. [5]

Several Argentine government organizations also celebrated Berni's centennial in 2005, including the Ministerio de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología de la Nación, and Secretaría de Turismo de la Nación. Berni's daughter Lily curated an art show entitled Un cuadro para Juanito, 40 años después (A painting for Juanito, 40 years later). Through the organization De Todos Para Todos (By All For All) children across Argentina studied Berni's art then created their own using his collage techniques. [5] [11]

In July 2008 thieves disguised as police officers stole fifteen Berni paintings that were being transported from a suburb to the Bellas Artes National Museum. Culture Secretary Jose Nun described the paintings as being "of great national value" and described the robbery as "an enormous loss to Argentine culture." [12]

See also

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References

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  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Salinas, Esmeralda. "The Power of Juanito: Antonio Berni and the Continuing Legacy of Juanito Laguna". Academia.edu. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  6. "Antonio Berni". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  7. Plastic Exercise
  8. "Modern Teachers". Antonio Berni. Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  9. Barnitz, Jacqueline. Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America. The University of Texas Press, 2001, p. 84.
  10. Ramírez, Mari Carmen. Cantos Paralelos. The University of Texas at Austin, 1999, p. 190.
  11. Rouillon, Jorge (July 15, 2005). "Juanito Laguna, revivido en fotos por chicos de las villas". LaNacion.com. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  12. "Fake cops steal valuable Berni paintings in Argentina". AsiaOne News. July 27, 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2013.