Manuel Neri, Influential Bay Area Sculptor with a Focus on Figuration, Is Dead at 91 - Lebanon news - أخبار لبنان
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Manuel Neri, Influential Bay Area Sculptor with a Focus on Figuration, Is Dead at 91

Manuel Neri, whose offbeat sculptures of figures missing limbs and heads count among the most significant works of the Bay Area Figuration Movement, died of natural causes on Monday at 91. San Francisco’s Hackett Mill gallery, which represents Neri, announced the news in an email blast earlier this week. “Neri’s highly evocative, lyrical work with…

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Manuel Neri, Influential Bay Area Sculptor with a Focus on Figuration, Is Dead at 91

Manuel Neri, whose offbeat sculptures of figures missing limbs and heads count among the most significant works of the Bay Area Figuration Movement, died of natural causes on Monday at 91. San Francisco’s Hackett Mill gallery, which represents Neri, announced the news in an email blast earlier this week.
“Neri’s highly evocative, lyrical work with the female form, chiefly in plaster, bronze, and marble, represents a vivid link between modernist sculpture and the fullness of the Western figural tradition,” the gallery said in its obituary.

When Neri began producing his strange painted sculptures during the postwar era, he was associated with a rising crop of Bay Area artists whose work tended toward figuration at a time when critics still preferred an Abstract Expressionist aesthetic. Along with painters such as Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, Neri is considered a part of a generation of artists that also includes Joan Brown (to whom Neri was briefly married) and Robert Qualters. Unlike some of his better-known colleagues, however, Neri gravitated toward sculpture, not painting.

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By the mid-1950s, Neri had already become an integral member of an avant-garde San Francisco art scene. He served as a director of Six Gallery, which famously presented Beat poet Allen Ginsburg’s reading of Howl in 1955, and was a member of the Rat Bastard Protective Association, a group that also included artists Bruce Conner and Jay DeFeo. In a similar spirit to those artists, Neri produced works early on that made use of cheap materials, such as cardboard, wire, cloth, and newspaper. In using such banal matter for his work, Neri was among the many American artists at the time who were working to bring the everyday into the field of sculpture, imploding the boundary between art and life.

Manuel Neri, Male Head No. 2, ca. 1969/72–74.
Courtesy Hackett Mill and the Manuel Neri Trust

Later works would come to take on a more elegant, though no less mystifying, aesthetic. He would go on to create his human forms using plaster, bronze, and metal—materials that have been used by sculptors for ages, even though what Neri did with them could hardly be called traditional. Many of the figures Neri crafted feature barely defined faces or with see-through portions that expose the sculpture’s innards. These sculptures are neither portraits in the conventional sense nor effective figurative studies intended to display a knack for depicting human anatomy. Instead, they aspire to something more conceptual.

“I love the body language that people have, the way they move, the way they position themselves,” Neri said in a 2008 Smithsonian Archives of American Art oral history. “That says so much of the person for me, and this has almost nothing to do with the face. That’s my interest there. In fact, a lot of times, I’ll even leave the head off because I don’t want to deal with that.”
Born in 1930 in Sanger, California, to Mexican immigrants, Neri went on to attend the San Francisco City College, where he initially planned to study to become an electrical engineer. A course with sculptor Peter Voulkos was among the factors that pushed him toward becoming an artist, however. He began as a painter, and later translated the Abstract Expressionist–like techniques he used to his sculptures, which are sometimes slathered with various hues of paint. Starting in the late ’50s, Neri also began teaching art, first at the California School of Fine Arts, then at the University of California, Berkeley, and finally at the University of California, Davis, where he was a professor for 25 years.
In the 2008 oral history, Neri said he was a rare non-white artist among an almost entirely white cohort, and that he was made keenly aware of his status as a Latino. But, he asserted, “What is referred to as Latino art, I don’t connect with.”
Neri’s art has been considered hugely important to the Bay Area art scene, though it has not received quite as much recognition beyond that part of California. It wasn’t until 1981, for instance, that Neri had a solo show in New York. Reviewing that show at Cowles Gallery, New York Times critic Hilton Kramer praised the artist for synthesizing Abstract Expressionism and Bay Area Figuration, writing, “No one else has carried this complex heritage into sculpture with quite the energy or originality that Mr. Neri has brought to it.”

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Post-Conquest Aztec Altar Found in Mexico on 500th Anniversary of Spain’s Invasion

When Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico in 1521, it heralded the end of an era for the Aztec people. But that empire was not finished all at once, and according to the BBC, a new archaeological find shows that some Aztecs managed to continue living after the Spanish arrived. Earlier this week, Mexican officials announced that…

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Post-Conquest Aztec Altar Found in Mexico on 500th Anniversary of Spain’s Invasion

When Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico in 1521, it heralded the end of an era for the Aztec people. But that empire was not finished all at once, and according to the BBC, a new archaeological find shows that some Aztecs managed to continue living after the Spanish arrived.
Earlier this week, Mexican officials announced that they found an altar formed by a family that survived the initial Spanish invasion. The altar was discovered quite deep underground. Archaeologist Mara Becerra told the BBC that she believes the altar was purposefully buried to hide it from the Spanish. Becerra also believes that the family who made this altar were Mexica, the Indigenous people who ruled the Aztec empire.

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Archaeologists spent three months studying an old Indigenous house, particularly the courtyard where the ritual offerings were made. There, the archaeologists found 13 incense burners, five bowls, a cup, a plate and a pot with cremated skeletal remains.
A statement by Mexico’s culture ministry said that the altar was made “to bear witness to the ending of a cycle of their lives and of their civilization.” The announcement of these findings comes on the 500th anniversary of Spain’s invasion.
Mexico is a treasure trove of potential archaeological sites that have not yet been excavated. Even Teotihuacán, one of the most famous Mexican archaeological sites, is only 5 percent excavated. Late this past October, 500 potential archaeological sites were discovered in Mexico using Light Detection and Ranging technology.
However, in recent years there have been exciting discoveries all around the country. In 2020, a newly discovered Aztec tower of skulls, found in Mexico city, drew substantial media attention. But, due to the pandemic, progress made in the archaeological field in Mexico has faced some setbacks.

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Simone Leigh, Who Departed Hauser & Wirth After Less Than Two Years, Joins Matthew Marks Gallery

Simone Leigh, who departed the mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth last October after just 21 months, has joined Matthew Marks gallery. The artist, who is preparing to represent the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, joins a roster that includes Alex Da Corte, Martin Puryear, and Jasper Johns. She made her debut with Matthew Marks…

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Simone Leigh, Who Departed Hauser & Wirth After Less Than Two Years, Joins Matthew Marks Gallery

Simone Leigh, who departed the mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth last October after just 21 months, has joined Matthew Marks gallery. The artist, who is preparing to represent the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, joins a roster that includes Alex Da Corte, Martin Puryear, and Jasper Johns. She made her debut with Matthew Marks at Art Basel Miami Beach, which opened this week.
The sought-after sculptor’s departure from Hauser & Wirth spurred speculation over whether she had found new representation. Leigh joined the gallery, which has 15 locations worldwide, in 2020 after leaving New York’s Luhring Augustine and Los Angeles’s David Kordansky Gallery, the latter of which had represented her for half a year.

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In mid-October, Hauser & Wirth had prominently featured Leigh’s sculptures in Frieze London. A major exhibition at the gallery’s location in Zurich, her first presentation in Switzerland, was ongoing amid the split. The details surrounding her departure have remained under wraps, and both parties issued gracious statements at the time.
“I love and respect the people I worked with at Hauser and Wirth,” Leigh said. “But I do not feel the gallery is the right fit for me in the wider sense. I’m still figuring out what I want from a primary gallery relationship.” The decision came amid a career-high for the New York-based artist, who will be the first Black woman to represent the U.S. in Venice.
In 2017 she was awarded the Studio Museum in Harlem’s $50,000 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, and the following year she won the Hugo Boss Prize, which comes with $100,000 and a solo exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Her work was chosen by the prize’s jury for its “longstanding and unwavering commitment to addressing black women as both the subject of and audience for her work, a focus which imagines a recalibration of the outmoded power structures that shape contemporary society.”
Leigh was included in the critically acclaimed 2021 survey “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” at the New Museum in New York; she was also featured in the Prospect New Orleans triennial. Her work is currently on view in the group show “Black American Portraits” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Met Museum Receives Landmark $125 M. from Longtime Trustee Oscar Tang

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its largest capital gift in its 151-year history: $125 million pledged by the museum’s long-time trustee Oscar Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. The funds will go towards a renovation project centered around the museum’s presentation of modern and contemporary art, to include 80,000 square-feet of galleries…

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Met Museum Receives Landmark $125 M. from Longtime Trustee Oscar Tang

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its largest capital gift in its 151-year history: $125 million pledged by the museum’s long-time trustee Oscar Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. The funds will go towards a renovation project centered around the museum’s presentation of modern and contemporary art, to include 80,000 square-feet of galleries and public space to be named the Oscar L. Tang and H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang Wing.
The long-postponed “re-envisioning” of the Met’s modern and contemporary galleries, first proposed more than a decade ago, has been delayed due to a lack of funding. The project is currently estimated to cost a total of $500 million.

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Oscar Tang, the octogenarian retired financier, founded the investment management firm Reich & Tang. Having served on the Met’s board for three decades, it is not the first transformative gift he’s bestowed on the New York institution. In 1997, he gave $14 million to fund the Met’s purchase of rare Chinese paintings, and in 2015 gave $15 million to establish new curatorial positions and to support programming for the centennial of the museum’s department of Asian art.
Tang is the son of Tang Ping-yuan, a Chinese textile mogul who founded a successful manufacturing company in Hong Kong in the post-Communist era. In the Met’s press release, he attributed his philanthropic activities in part to having been displaced by conflict in his home region and being subsequently educated in the U.S. Tang’s previous philanthropic gifts also include money given to the New York Philharmonic, Yale University, and the Gordon Parks Foundation. Agnes Hsu-Tang, an archaeologist and researcher at Columbia University, has served as a cultural heritage advisor at UNESCO and for the Obama administration.
“Their generosity—while breathtaking in its scope and vision—is no surprise, as it is an extension of their decades-long support of our Museum,” Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and CEO, said in a statement. Max Hollein, the museum’s director, added, “The reimagining of these galleries will allow the Museum to approach 20th- and 21st-century art from a global, encyclopedic, bold, and surprising perspective—all values that reflect the legacy of Oscar and Agnes.”
The couple, whom the Met called “activist collectors” in its press release, described the museum as “an exemplary guardian and presenter of artistic heritages across cultures and time.” They alluded to their longtime support of transcultural and anti-racism initiatives as a driving factor in backing the Modern wing project, saying, “Contemporary art transcends entrenched notions of borders and identities.”

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