Antonio Berni (1905–1981): First steps; Primeros pasos

Antonio Berni (1905–1981): First steps; Primeros pasos

11/6/2021, 10:43:43 AM
Antonio Berni (1905–1981): First steps; Primeros pasos, 1936, Oil on canvas, 200 x 180 cm, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts), Buenos Aires, Argentina @bellasartesargentina . . Argentinean artist Antonio Berni was widely recognized early in his career as a leading painter and promoter of his own brand of "New Realism" in Latin America. He returned to Rosario, Argentina in late 1931, following a decisive stay in Europe during which he had come into contact with different avant-garde innovations, tendencies toward a return to order and grand Western figurative traditions. Although he continued working in relation to the surrealist experiences he had cultivated during the last portion of his stay in Paris, he soon veered in the direction of new realism. 'Primeros Pasos' is a painting whose graceful, stylized characters share a monumental, hierarchic quality that can be found in many of the figures the artist painted during the thirties and forties. In this case Paule and Lily are portrayed, the artist’s wife and daughter who feature in various enigmatic scenes within a long series of works dedicated to feminine figures shown deep in thought. Although in some of these monumental portraits the figure stands out against a singular rural or riverside landscape, the majority are invariably situated in interiors with empty, undecorated walls, interrupted only by fragments of furniture or windows that open onto the outside world. This is a strange scene in which time seems to stand still and the power of words is replaced by the characters in all the eloquence of their contained, melancholic gestures. In these scenes, some traces of Renaissance traditions and Christian iconography can be detected, especially the theme of the Annunciation. This is no coincidence if we consider the manner in which Giorgio de Chirico recovered certain zones of the past in his metaphysical painting, whose motifs and compositional modalities Berni seems to have transcribed in several of his works. (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes)

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