Lincoln Kirstein's Modern

Antonio Berni (Argentine, 1905–1981). _New Chicago Athletic Club (Club atlético Nueva Chicago)_. 1937. Oil on canvas. 6 ft. ¾ in. x 9 ft. 10 ¼ in. (184.8 x 300.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund. © 2019 Fundación Antonio Berni and Luis Emilio De Rosa, Argentina

Antonio Berni. New Chicago Athletic Club (Club atlético Nueva Chicago). 1937 3331

Antonio Berni (Argentine, 1905–1981). New Chicago Athletic Club (Club atlético Nueva Chicago). 1937. Oil on canvas. 6 ft. ¾ in. x 9 ft. 10 ¼ in. (184.8 x 300.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund. © 2019 Fundación Antonio Berni and Luis Emilio De Rosa, Argentina

JODI HAPUTMAN: In 1942, Kirstein traveled to South America, visiting seven countries over a period of five months. He was sent there by Nelson Rockefeller, who was then head of the US government’s Office of Inter-American Affairs. Rockefeller asked Kirstein to go to South America to acquire art for MoMA. But he also asked Kirstein to act as a spy.

SAMANTHA FRIEDMAN: He's sent to check in on the allegiances of South American countries during World War II. He acquires approximately a hundred and fifty works of art for the Museum. And this painting that you see here by Antonio Berni is the largest and most expensive picture that Kirstein acquired on that trip.

In the painting, we see a ragtag soccer team from the outskirts of Buenos Aires, presented with a real grandeur and dignity on this commanding scale.

JODI HAUPTMAN: Berni is thinking back to art of the past, and that is something that Lincoln Kirstein would have definitely found intriguing.

SAMANTHA FRIEDMAN: You can really see how Berni has executed every detail with real specificity, and that's part and parcel of his commitment to what he called a New Realism.

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