Detrás de la cortina [Behind the Curtain]
59.5 cm x 51.4 cm (23 7/16 in. x 20 1/4 in.)
(Rosario, Argentina, 1905 - 1981, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Latin America, Argentinean
Medium and Support:
Collograph with relief halftone and hand-inking
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of the Museum of Modern Art, 1982
Beginning in the late 1950s, Antonio Berni turned to innovative collage and printmaking techniques as he pursued the central goal of his long and prolific career: an art of social engagement. He developed two narrative series based on the lives of imaginary characters Juanito Laguna, a boy from the slums, and Ramona Montiel, a prostitute from the lower class who was seduced by the media’s depiction of the good life.
In this melodramatic composition, a lace curtain withdraws to reveal Ramona Montiel with a client. While Antonio Berni often used Ramona and her escapades to illustrate Argentina’s class politics and social inequality, the scene also gestures toward poverty on a wider scale. The television screen, running unnoticed in the background, shows a starving child on the news. Berni’s experiments with printmaking techniques involved embossing everyday objects in high relief on wet paper, which resulted in a sculptural form.