Antonio Berni: Paper revelations. 1922-1981

Curated by the historian and researcher Marcelo E. Pacheco, an advisor to the Museo’s Patrimony department, this exhibition featured 222 drawings spanning the entirety of the artistic career of Antonio Berni (1905-1981); from early landscapes of the outskirts of Rosario from around 1922 to sketches for his final murals for the San Luis Gonzaga Chapel in Las Heras, Buenos Aires Province, dated 1981, the year of his death.

In addition to being a painter, an engraver and a sculptor, Berni was a compulsive draughtsman. Even as a boy prodigy he always kept paper, notebooks, pencil and charcoal to hand and with time and practice they became almost an extension of his body. The large collection of works on paper being exhibited at the Museo is testimony to the fluid and skilful use the artist made of different techniques and materials, both in his workshop and his daily life.

The exhibition consisted of sketches for paintings, engravings and murals, studies of thus far unknown motifs and notes from his studio. There were also images of works that have disappeared, travel notebooks and hard to classify pieces that don’t seem to fit in with any of his series. Although they are extremely varied, each drawing is a product of its time, material evidence of the artist’s encounter with reality and his relationship with the cultural, political, social and economic contexts of the period.

Antonio Berni. Paper Revelations. 1922-1981 provided a contemporary perspective on Berni’s drawings, offering new interpretations of his testimony and record of Argentine history and showing it to be a source of individual and collective memory. The exhibition presented Berni as a modern and contemporary artist, exploring the puzzle of his art: his output for the art market, official entries to salons and prizes and other works that addressed debates within the field of art. It was an enormously powerful collection that included events also seen in his paintings as well as others, such as the Korean War, that had never been seen before, offering a vision of Berni’s work that left no doubt as to its ideological framework, a moral compass to which the artist always stayed true.