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Standing Figure II, 1982
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This life-size plaster figure was modeled after Neri’s long-time muse and model, the poet Mary Julia Klimenko, who became his principal model in 1972. It is not a portrait but a figure—one of hundreds Neri has made in plaster over the course of his seven-decade-long career. Plaster is the medium for which he is best known. Affordable and readily available, it can be worked quickly and easily—molded when wet and carved when dry. Every inch of the sculpture’s surface has been handled; scratched, gouged, dimpled, and scraped, it is alive with the artist’s presence. The vagueness of the figure’s head and face pushes our gaze to the subtle yet dynamic thrust of her body: thighs flexed, hips pushed slightly forward, arms pulled back. These gestures are highlighted by expressive strokes of paint in moody blues and grays. Modeling the plaster from life, Neri remade Klimenko’s lithe body from an intimate knowledge gained and imparted by touch.

-Sidney Simon ’18