198.7 cm x 199 cm (78 1/4 in. x 78 3/8 in.)
(Rosario, Argentina, 1905 - 1981, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Latin America, Argentinean
Medium and Support:
Acrylic and collage on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Barbara Duncan Fund, 1977
Antonio Berni was one of the great painters of social themes and critical commentary in the twentieth century. Although less known internationally, his work merits comparison with that of the Mexican Muralists. Unlike the Muralists, Berni was never part of a large government-sponsored art program. And while he remained committed to themes of social justice shared with the Muralists, he adopted a range of different artistic styles, from his experiments with Surrealism and Socialist Realism in the 1930s, to his subversion of Pop art in the 1960s and 1970s. Like many Latin American artists, Berni moved to New York in the 1970s, escaping political uncertainty and persecution at home in Argentina. He painted Mediodía in New York, and while the subject is clearly Argentine (the sign is in Spanish), the treatment of the professionally painted advertising sign indicates his awareness of American and European Pop art. However, the stark contrast between the brightly colored sign advertising new cars and the humble black and white used in depicting the workers who produce those consumer goods shows an explicit political conscience missing in much American Pop art of the period.