Argentinean artist Antonio Berni (1905-1981) was widely recognized early in his career as a leading painter and promoter of his own brand of New Realism in Latin America. But in the mid-1950s, motivated by the social distress and poverty he witnessed in Argentina amid social unrest and the country's industrialization, Berni abandoned painting for assemblage. He devoted much of the rest of his life to chronicling the tales of Juanito Laguna and Ramona Montiel, two fictitious characters that he created and constructed from trash, machine parts and other discards from everyday life and whose experiences exposed the undercurrents of Argentinean society.
Juanito, a boy of the shantytowns, and Ramona, a working-class woman forced into prostitution, became popular legends and folk heroes within Berni's own lifetime.
A collaboration of the MFAH and Malba – Fundación Costantini in Buenos Aires, this exhibition is the first to focus on this iconic series and the related series of Berni's monumental Monsters. The exhibition travels to Malba following its Houston debut. It is organized by Mari Carmen Ramírez, the MFAH Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA); and Marcelo Pacheco, curator at Malba.
On view through Jan. 26.