Argentine artist Antonio Berni hasn’t had an exhibit in an American museum for half a century, but “Antonio Berni: Juanito and Ramona”
will give Houstonians a rare look at his strange and wonderful art. During the early part of his life, Berni established himself in Argentina as a master painter in the Latin American New Realism style, but that all changed in the 1950s, when he began working in assemblage. At the time, Argentina was plagued by severe social upheaval under the rule of heavy-handed Juan Perón (opposition forces faced torture and widespread inflation led to mass poverty). The disorder inspired Berni to create two fictional characters, Juanito Laguna, a boy from the slums, and Ramona Montiel, a prostitute. Utilizing waste materials, Juanito was made of old cardboard and industrial sheet metal, while Ramona was composed of hand embroidery and plastic nails. The two dominated Berni’s assemblage pieces, representing ordinary citizens. His work captures a profound moment in the country’s history.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through January 26. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free to $15.
Sundays, 12:15-7 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Starts: Nov. 10. Continues through Jan. 26, 2013