Manuel Neri

Manuel Neri
was born in 1930 in Sanger, Cali­fornia. Neri attended San Fran­cisco City College from 1949 – 50 with the idea of becoming an elec­trical engi­neer. A single class in ceramics turned him to art and a move to Cali­fornia College of Arts and Crafts and subse­quent studies at Cali­fornia School of Fine Arts (now the San Fran­cisco Art Insti­tute). Studies with such artists as Elmer Bischoff and Richard Diebenkorn led him to abstract expres­sionism, but a radical turn­about occurred in the 1950s. “I would say that I did a U-turn in my art in 1955 when I saw my first child being born,” he says. “It was a fantastic moment. I real­ized then that the female body has the magic. The male may have the power, but the female has the magic.”

Neri is known primarily for his life-size figu­ra­tive sculp­tures in plaster, bronze, and marble, as well as for his asso­ci­a­tion with the Bay Area Figu­ra­tive move­ment during the 1950s and 1960s. Since 1972, Neri has worked with the same model, Mary Julia, creating draw­ings and plaster figures that merge contem­po­rary sculp­tural concerns with clas­sical forms. The anatom­ical skill of these works recalls the sculp­tures and draw­ings of Rodin, Giacometti and Degas. The fragile nature of his plaster sculp­tures led him to cast some of the plas­ters in bronze, which became a vehicle for color to empha­size surfaces and form.

Manuel Neri has received numerous awards including the Guggen­heim Foun­da­tion Fellow­ship, National Endow­ment for the Arts Grant, San Fran­cisco Arts Commis­sion Award for Outstanding Achieve­ment in Sculp­ture, Honorary Doctorate for Outstanding Achieve­ment in Sculp­ture by the San Fran­cisco Art Insti­tute, Awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Cali­fornia College of Arts and Crafts, and an Honorary Doctorate by the Corcoran School of Art, Wash­ington, D.C.

Manuel Neri’s work has been acquired for many impor­tant collec­tions including: Eli Broad Family Collec­tion, Los Angeles; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Wash­ington, D.C.; Crosby Kemper Museum of Contem­po­rary Art, Kansas City; Denver Art Museum; Des Moines Art Center; The Fine Arts Museums of San Fran­cisco; Gap Collec­tion, San Fran­cisco; Hirsh­horn Museum and Sculp­ture Garden, Smith­sonian Insti­tu­tion, Wash­ington, D.C.; Honolulu Academy of the Arts; Janss Collec­tion, Sun Valley, Idaho; Levi Strauss Asso­ciates, Inc., San Fran­cisco; Memphis Brooks Art Museum, Tennessee; Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, Cali­fornia; The Oakland Museum, Cali­fornia; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Cali­fornia; San Fran­cisco Museum of Modern Art; San Diego Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Virlane Foun­da­tion, New Orleans; and Whitney Museum of Amer­ican Art, New York.

In 1990 Neri retired from the Univer­sity of Cali­fornia, Davis, where he had taught since 1965.

One thought on “Manuel Neri”

  1. Janet Langton says:

    I am writing a novel based on SF in the 1950’s. I was married to an artist, Ben Langton, at that time. He was a painter and had successful shows at Bolles Gallery. He could be included in your site. I need to contact people still alive who were working in The City at that time. I want to convey the excite­ment and creativity of an era that changed the culture forever, though we didn’t know that it was a tremen­dous tran­si­tion at the time. jala9​2​0​0​2​@​yahoo.​com. Janet Langton author of RIVER OF SKULLS

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