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Marble Relief Maquette No. 5, 1983
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Maquettes for Marble Reliefs

Neri created these nine maquettes, with [Mary Julia] Klimenko as his model, as scale models for a series of life-size relief sculptures to be carved later of marble in his studio in Carrara, Italy. The projected works were part of a series entitled Mujer Pegada, which translates from Spanish as “glued” or “attached woman.” In each composition, the female form is only partially articulated from the vertical surface in which she is encased. Evoking the unearthing of fragmented Roman antiquities or the weathered surfaces of ancient Etruscan friezes, each figure is simultaneously emerging from and sinking into her material ground. In contrast to Neri’s freestanding figures, which engage with viewers in a shared physical environment, these shallow reliefs are embedded in their architectural context, occupying their own, separate space akin to that of framed drawings.

The maquettes were originally created in plaster, a material considerably easier to work with and more forgiving than marble. The small size allowed Neri to see at a glance the effects of changes to the overall composition. The objects on view here are bronze casts of the plaster originals, treated with Neri’s signature Alborada patina, a white coating with yellow glazes. The bronze faithfully replicates and fixes the fugitive texture of plaster: at once wet and dry, dripping and crumbling.

-Sidney Simon, PhD ‘18