Think of Juanito Laguna and Ramona Montiel as not one boy and one girl, but as each representing the collective consciousness of the emerging middle class in Argentina. These two fictional archetypal characters, imagined by Argentine artist Antonio Berni, chronicle socio-economic issues that resulted from Argentina's industrial development, beginning in the 1950s.
Neither Juanito or Ramona is a victim of his or her circumstances. Rather, each emerges with a strong disposition to adjust and enjoy life despite their imposed milieu.
Their story is front and center in Antonio Berni: Juanito and Ramona, an exhibition in collaboration with Malba – Fundación Costantini in Buenos Aires, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through Jan. 26.
The collection of paintings, assemblages and sculptures reveals Berni's convictions. Berni believed that it was an artist's responsibility to respond to his or her environment. This style, coined New Realism, served as a record of the growing pains experienced by a rapidly changing society.
With commentary from Mari Carmen Ramírez, the MFAH Wortham Curator of Latin American Art, this audio photo essay examines some of the colorful pieces in the exhibition.
Antonio Berni, Juanito con la moto, c. 1972; oil, wood and fabrics, including glued cotton and sock; shoe; industrial trash including radio components, rubber tires and plastic containers; metals including a chain and sheet metal, nails and staples on wood; private collection.