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Manuel Neri
Born 1930 in Sanger, CA
Lives and works in San Francisco, CA, and Carrara, Italy
Untitled, 1991
Carrara marble on Carrara marble base
91 x 27 x 23 1/2 inches
Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection
Gift of the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation
1997.18a–b
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Manuel Neri has been exploring the female form for over four decades. He principally uses plaster, marble, and bronze in his sculptural exploration. Allied with the Bay Area figurative painters in the 1950s, Neri stayed with figural work when others around him moved into abstraction, preferring instead to examine the female form. However, some of his sculptures incorporate painted surfaces with passages of abstraction which underscore his affiliation with the action painters of Abstract Expressionism.
In our sculpture, he has left much of the marble surface smooth, combining that smoothness with passages of rough-cut marble. The use of Italian Carrara marble suggests his affinity for classical Renaissance sculpture which focused on the human figure. The fragmented bodies of his sculptures—the female form is often without arms—may suggest the classical past of Greek and Roman sculpture fragments. This sculpture is a nude female torso which starts at the neck and goes only to the thighs. The figure is elongated and simplified with little attention to anatomical detail. Rather, the sculpture shows off the marble and carving process. The base is finely polished while the texture of the stone in the figure ranges from smooth to rough cut, appearing a bit like a work in progress. The arms are bent at the elbows as if the figure had her invisible hands up to her collarbones.
Neri has had exhibitions at the Oakland Museum, CA, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, among others. His work is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, CA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Laumeier Sculpture Park, MO, and many others.