Manuel Neri

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Manuel Neri
Manuel Neri Italy 1983.jpg
Sculptor Manuel Neri in his Carrara, Italy studio, 1983, photo by Sally Larsen
Born John Manuel Neri
(1930-04-12) April 12, 1930 (age 89)
Sanger, California
Nationality American
Education California College of Arts and Crafts (1951–1956),
California School of Fine Arts (1956-1958)
Known for Sculpture, also painting and printmaking
Movement Bay Area Figurative Movement
Awards American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters – Award in Art (1982)
San Francisco Arts Commission – Outstanding Achievement in Sculpture (1985)
San Francisco Art Institute – Honorary Doctorate (1990)
California College of Arts and Crafts – Honorary Doctorate (1992)
Corcoran School of Art – Honorary Doctorate (1995)
International Sculpture Center - Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award (2006)

Manuel Neri (born April 12, 1930) is an American sculptor, painter, and printmaker and a notable member of the "second generation" of the Bay Area Figurative Movement.


Neri was born in Sanger, California, to immigrant parents who fled Mexico during political unrest following the Mexican Revolution. He began attending college at San Francisco City College in 1950, initially studying to be an electrical engineer. After taking a class in ceramics, he was inspired to become an artist. He continued his education at California College of Arts and Crafts and at California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Neri studied under Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, taking up abstract expressionism under their influence, but later turning toward figurative art along with them.[1]

In the late 1950s, he was a member of the artist-run cooperative gallery, the Six Gallery, along with Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, and Jay DeFeo. In 1959, Neri became an original member of Bruce Conner's Rat Bastard Protective Association.[2]

Neri taught sculpture and ceramics at California School of Fine Arts from 1959–1965 and was on the faculty of the University of California, Davis from 1965-1999.[1]

In 2006, Neri was a recipient of the International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.[3]


Although Neri's work includes many paintings, drawings, and prints, his primary medium is sculpture, typically using plaster, but sometimes marble or bronze. He is noted for his life-size sculptures, which though clearly figurative in nature, are abstracted figures rather than realist representations. His sculptures primarily focus on the gesture, and the surfaces of his sculptures are often, sanded, chipped, or painted to emphasize textures. [1] His approach to sculpture is often described as "painterly," and his approach to drawing and painting is correspondingly described as "sculptural".[4]

Work in collections

The following are among the public art collections holding works by Manuel Neri: Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D. C.), the Denver Art Museum, the El Paso Museum of Art (El Paso, Texas), Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, New Jersey), the Honolulu Museum of Art, Laumier Sculpture Park and Museum (St. Louis, Missouri), the Neuberger Museum of Art (State University of New York, Purchase, New York), the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (Utah State University, Logan, Utah), the Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, California), the Palm Springs Desert Museum (Palm Springs, California), the San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego, California), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, diRosa (Napa, California), The Mexican Museum (San Francisco, California), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City).[1] Portland Art Museum (Portland, Oregon)

Personal life

Neri was married to Bay Area Figurative painter Joan Brown from 1962–1966. (Their relationship and artistic collaboration date back several years prior to this, however.) Three of his children, Noel Neri, Ruby Neri, and Julia Leonard are also artists. Ruby Neri is noted for her graffiti work (under the name "Reminisce") and as part of the first generation of Mission School artists.[2] [3] Neri currently resides in Benicia, California, which was halfway between Davis, California where taught in the art department and his gallery in San Francisco, currently the Hackett Mills Gallery.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Artist Forum. 'Manuel Neri'. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  2. Its members included Jay de Feo, Michael McClure, Manuel Neri and Joan Brown. See Rebecca Solnit, ‘Heretical Constellations: Notes on California, 1946–61’, in Sussman, ed., Beat Culture and the New America, 69–122, especially 71.
  3. International Sculpture Center website. 'Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award page'. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  4. Kramer, H. (27 February 1981). 'Art: First solo show for Manuel Neri', New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2010.


See also

External links