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Portrait of Juanito Laguna – Antonio Berni

Juanito Laguna

Juanito Laguna

“Yo a Juanito y a Ramona los hice precisamente en collage, con materiales de rezago, porque era el entorno en que ellos vivían; y así no apelaban justamente a lo sentimentalista. Yo les puse nombre y apellido a una multitud de anónimos, desplazados, marginados niños y humilladas mujeres; y los convertí en símbolo, por una cuestión exactamente de sentimiento. Los rodeé de la materia en que desenvolvían sus desventuras, para que, de lo sentido, brotara el testimonio.”
Yo a Juanito Laguna lo veo y lo siento como el arquetipo que es; arquetipo de una realidad argentina y latinoamericana, lo siento como expresión de todos los Juanitos Laguna que existen. Para mí no es un individuo, una persona: es un personaje… En él están fundidos muchos chicos y adolescentes que yo he conocido, que han sido mis amigos, con los que he jugado en la calle…”

Antonio Berni: ” Escritos y papeles privados”
juanito Laguna

juanito Laguna

Delesio Antonio Berni (14 May 1905 – 13 October 1981) was a figurative artist born in Rosario, Argentina. He is associated with Nuevo Realismo, a Latin American extension of social realism. His work, including a series of Juanito Laguna collagesdepicting poverty and the effects of industrialization in Buenos Aires, has been exhibited around the world.

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Juanito Laguna

Berni’s post-1950s work can be viewed as “a synthesis of Pop Art and Social realism.” In 1958 he began collecting and collaging discarded material to create a series of works featuring a character named Juanito Laguna. The series became a social narrative onindustrialization and poverty, and pointed out the extreme disparities existing between the wealthy Argentine aristocracy and the “Juanitos” of the slums.

As he explained in a 1967 Le Monde interview, “One cold, cloudy night, while passing through the miserable city of Juanito, a radical change in my vision of reality and its interpretation occurred…I had just discovered, in the unpaved streets and on the waste ground, scattered discarded materials, which made up the authentic surroundings of Juanito Laguna – old wood, empty bottles, iron, cardboard boxes, metal sheets etc., which were the materials used for constructing shacks in towns such as this, sunk in poverty.”

Latin American art expert Mari Carmen Ramirez has described the Juanito works as an attempt to “seek out and record the typical living truth of underdeveloped countries and to bear witness to the terrible fruits of neocolonialism, with its resulting poverty and economic backwardness and their effect on populations driven by a fierce desire for progress, jobs, and the inclination to fight.”

Notable Juanito works include Retrato de Juanito Laguna (Portrait of Juanito Laguna), El mundo prometido a Juanito (The World Promised to Juanito), and Juanito va a la ciudad(Juanito Goes to the City). Art featuring Juanito (and Ramona Montiel, a similar female character) won Berni the Grand Prix for Printmaking at the Venice Biennale in 1962.

More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Berni

Photos here: http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/specials/2010/buenos_aires_art/tour/antonio_berni/05

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