Collection Online

© Manuel Neri

Audio Guide - Adult

Carrara 88, 1988

Artist: Manuel Neri, American, b. 1930

Medium: Carrara marble

Object: 73 1/4 x 18 x 13 in. (186.1 x 45.7 x 33 cm)
Base: 7 7/8 x 25 7/8 x 26 in. (20 x 65.7 x 66 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of Art Today and its Rosamund Bernier Fund and the following: (Sustainers) Mrs. James D. Robinson, Charles Cowles Gallery, Wil and Sally Hergenrader, Mickey and Ralph Lewis Laukhuff; (Donors) Dr. Thomas C. Gettelfinger, Dr. Rushton E. Patterson, Jr., Richard and Barbara Wilson, Anonymous Donor; (Supporters) d'Arts, Willliam and Jean Clouspy, Mr. and Mrs. Michael McDonnell, Hubert F. and Emily Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde C. Hudson, Mrs. Arline Krelstein, Joe and Jeannie Magdovitz. Dr. James K. Patterson. Mrs. Greenfield Polk, Mrs. N. S. Tommie Shobe, H. Ward Singer, Ann and Walker Uhlhorn, Mr. and Mrs. Zeno L. Yeates

Object Number: 89.30

Copyright: © Manuel Neri

On View

Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, New York, 1989

Born in northern California, Manuel Neri was first influenced by the experimental activities of jazz musicians and Beat poets working in San Francisco and the “funk” aesthetic they shared. He soon became associated with the Bay Area artists, including painters Elmer Bischoff, David Park and Richard Diebenkorn, in the 1950s and 1960s. Drawing from these experiences, and taking inspiration from the principles of Abstract Expressionism, Neri began exploring new materials and forms for figurative sculpture, coating his plaster humanoid works with bold, colorful brushstrokes. An astute artist aware of the properties of his materials and the scope of art historical precedents, Neri early on manifested aspects of the gouged, hand-modeled style of Auguste Rodin and Alberto Giacometti’s abstracted figuration.


With Carrara 88 Neri continues his examination of the human form through the medium of marble. Carrara marble is renowned as perhaps the finest in the world and was used most famously by Michelangelo for his monumental David (1501–1504). Visiting the Tuscan city in Italy’s Appenine mountains, Neri enacted a sculptor’s ritual very similar to that which artists centuries before him would have followed, from picking out the stone to shaping it with hammer and chisel. A lone female figure with truncated arms and legs seems to emerge as if from a fog. This effect echoes that of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave (ca. 1513), where the unfinished state of the figure evokes an expressive pathos that most probably would have been lost had the sculpture’s surface been more fully completed. Neri demonstrates a refined awareness of texture by contrasting smoothly polished surfaces with areas of roughly pitted chisel marks. He has consciously positioned this work within an art historical trajectory bearing stylistic and symbolic affiliations with the master sculptors of the Italian Renaissance. By acknowledging his artistic predecessors in this manner, Neri simultaneously pays homage to their skill and insinuates himself into the company of their presumed genius, while making his own mark toward defining a distinctive variant upon the genre.