New Haven, CT
Manuel Neri: The Human Figure in Plaster and on Paper explores the artist’s tireless fascination with the human form, drawing from a recent gift to the Gallery of more than 150 sculptures and works on paper from the Manuel Neri Trust. A contemporary of other notable California-based artists such as Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, and Wayne Thiebaud, Manuel Neri (b. 1930) is best known for his life-sized plaster, bronze, and marble sculptures that combine classical figuration with the dynamic mark-making of Abstract Expressionism.
Gallery director Jock Reynolds, who studied under Neri and served as his teaching assistant at the University of California, Davis, curates the exhibition, paying homage to his former teacher and mentor. The selected works celebrate Neri’s studio process, which Reynolds observed firsthand, and illustrate the artist’s tendency to work and rework his sculptures in visceral explorations of form and color. Incorporating archival photographs of Neri at work in his studio and Reynolds’ personal reflections, this exhibition yields multiple insights into the creative process and life’s work of a pioneering American artist.
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalogue, Manuel Neri: The Human Figure in Plaster and on Paper, examines the prodigious body of work of American sculptor Manuel Neri (b. 1930) through the unique perspective of one of Neri’s former students. The book traces the compelling yet often contradictory thematic arcs of Neri’s powerful work and his greater impact on the field of sculpture. At the heart of the publication are Jock Reynolds’s personal reflections on Neri and his legacy as a teacher, adding insight and intimacy to the scholarly understanding of the artist. Photographs of Neri in his studio, archival images, and installation photos of the related exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery round out the book. With its blend of art history and personal reflection, this unique book offers valuable insight into an important, understudied California artist.
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