The New Realism

Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda

This is a continuation of my occasional series on Argentinian painters. Today, I am presenting three paintings by Delesio Antonio Berni (1905-1981), who is known for his Nuevo Realismo, or new realism. This is usually taken to mean a Latin American form of social realism.

Below are two paintings dealing with poverty and the effects of industrialization in Argentina. Juan Perón came into power in the 1940s largely because of his appeal to workers. He was greatly aided in this by his then wife Evita Perón.

Public Demonstration

Manifestacion (Public Demonstration) (1934)

Note the sign at the upper right of this haunting image that reads “Pan y Trabajo,” which translates as “Bread and Work.” The faces in the foreground are particularly interesting.

There was a time when Argentina and Uruguay were two of the richest countries in the world. Much of this had to do with the invention of canned meat, followed soon after by the First World War, when there was a huge demand for meat to provision the troops of both sides. Sadly, boom times do not always last.


Desocupados (The Unemployed) (1934)

The above painting shows unemployed workers either asleep or staring into the middle distance.

When I go to Buenos Aires next month, I hope to find some of his original paintings, perhaps at MALBA (Museo d’Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires).