Antonio Berni

December 24, 2013, 10:01am

Monster Masterpieces: The Art of Antonio Berni

Ranging from the charming to the absurd, the work of Antonio Berni has been ubiquitous in Argentina since the 1930s, when he was a young artist advocating for political change. Little-known in the United States today, his works are a staple in many of Argentina’s major institutions, forming the core of permanent collections like the Latin American Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA) and the National Museum of Fine Arts. With an oeuvre that spans several decades of the twentieth century (Berni was prolific until his death in 1981), the diversity of his styles is astounding. While visiting Buenos Aires recently, I encountered small Chirico-style surrealist panels, expressive mural-sized scenes similar to those of Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, and—most curiously—an enormous papier-mâché sculpture of an alligator-monster with a woman’s legs emerging from its mouth.  

Antonio Berni | La pesadilla de Ramona (The nightmare of Ramona), 1964, Mixed media, approx. 3 x 2 x 10 feet, MALBA, Buenos Aires.

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