Delesio Antonio Berni was a figurative artist, born in Rosario, province of Santa Fe, Argentina. He worked as a painter, an illustrator and an engraver. His father, Napoleon Berni, was an immigrant tailor from Italy. His mother, Margarita Picco, was an Argentinian, daughter of Italians settled in Roldan, a nearby town.
By 1930 Berni was married and had a daughter. Shocked by the news of a military coup d'etat in Buenos Aires (see Decada Infame), he decided to go back, and settled first in the countryside, and then in Rosario, where he worked in the town hall. He organized an association of artists and students, and was briefly a member of the local Communist Party.
Argentina was under the rule of a conservative dictatorship, a problematic time full of social struggle, workers' strikes and unemployment. Rosario was a picturesque display of decadence, prostitution and mafia gangs. The world as a whole was moving towards darker times, with totalitarism, the rise of Nazism in Germany, the Spanish Civil War, etc. Berni felt surrealism was far removed from this, and started moving away into social realism, starting in 1934 with two paintings called Desocupados ("Unemployed people") and Manifestacion ("Demonstration").
AFP news report
Paintings at Ten Dreams Galleries
Artist image bank
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