Manuel Neri's sculptures from 1956 to 1960 played a major role in creating an artistic voice on the West Coast that stood out from the Abstract Expressionism that was dominant throughout the rest of the United States. Fueled by a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction with social and artistic norms, Neri emerged to disavow the traditional concept of art, to break down the barriers between disciplines and materials, and to shift the focus from product to process. His embrace of ‘junk’ material along with San Francisco's jazz-infused Beat culture led to his improv-infused working method in assemblage with the goal of redefining what constitutes fine art. Neri's sculptural forms of birds, moons, heads, and figures demonstrate the raw abandon of a Mexican-American artist finding his own identity in postwar San Francisco. In the process, Neri laid the foundation of an enduring artistic movement: San Francisco Funk.
Manuel Neri (born 1930 in Sanger, California) has consistently explored the points of contact between the visual and tactile, color and form, painting and sculpture, all the while remaining faithful to his primary motif, the human form. With a career spanning over sixty years, he gained renown as the only figural sculptor connected to the Bay Area Figurative movement. His sculptural practice is rooted in the desire to explore and manipulate material. Neri lives and works in Benicia, California.