washington-dc

Manuel Neri

Corcoran Gallery of Art

With the large number of Neri’s works on prominent display at the Corcoran, and a hefty full-color catalogue, the recent “Manuel Neri: Early Work, 1953–1978,” shown together with an exhibition of five of his recent marble sculptures, could have been mistaken for a major retrospective. Neri’s early work is figurative, lifesize, usually constructed out of plaster, and augmented frequently with wire, wood, canvas, or other support materials. The sculptures, sometimes partly painted, are often lifelike enough to suggest a rough and perhaps damaged George Segal plaster cast, (e.g., Seated Female Figure with Leg Raised, 1959), while others are so horrifically contorted they’re more like a volumetric rendering of a Lucian Freud female nude (e.g., Shrouded Figure, ca. 1960). Indeed, it’s the posture of most of the female figures, incongruously evoking both rigidity and vulnerability, that makes

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