Manuel Neri is strongly associated with the second generation of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. He works in sculpting, printmaking and painting.
Neri was the son of immigrants who were forced to flee Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. Born in Sanger, he pursued his art education in San Francisco. When he enrolled in San Francisco City College in 1950, however, his intention was to become an electrical engineer.
During his time at college he was exposed to ceramics. In that medium, he found the inspiration that would lead to his interest in pursuing the life of an artist. He studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the California School of Fine Arts. His initial work was in the Abstract Expressionism popular at the time.
Eventually, Manuel Neri would move toward figurative art and become one of the most notable artists in the Bay Area.
Neri is, first and foremost, known for his sculptures. His sculptures incorporate texture as part of their overall form, often being chipped, sanded or otherwise distressed to bring out a specific type of surface. His paintings share some of those characteristics, with a painterly execution that is sometimes referred to as "sculpted" in Neri's case.