Manizer was born in St. Petersburg. As a student Manizer attended the State Artistic and Industrial Academy there, and the art school of the Peredvizhniki from 1911 through 1916. From 1926 he was a member of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. In 1941 he moved to Moscow.
Working in an academic and realistic style, Manizer produced a great number of monuments situated throughout the Soviet Union, including some twelve portrayals of Lenin. Manizer was awarded the People's Artist of the USSR (1958), Member of USSR Academy of Arts (1947), vice president of USSR Academy of Arts (1947-1966), chairman of the Saint Petersburg Union of Artists from 1937 to 1941, and winner of the Stalin Prize three times.
Manizer's wife Elena Alexandrovna Yanson-Manizer (1890-1971) was a sculptor in her own right, with work at the Dynamo station of the Moscow Metro. Their son Hugh Matveyevich Manizer (born 1927) is a noted painter. Among Manizer's students was the Stalin Prize-winning Fuad Abdurakhmanov.
Manizer is buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery of Moscow.
- an elaborate multi-figure monument to Ukrainian poet and humanist Taras Shevchenko in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- monument to the victims of the 1905 Bloody Sunday massacre in St. Petersburg, Frunze District, St. Petersburg, 1932
- multifigure equestrian monument to Red Army commander Vasily Chapayev, Samara. 1932
- 80 bronzes of Soviet citizens for the Revolution Square station of the Moscow Metro, 1938
- monument to Soviet figure Valerian Kuybyshev, Samara, 1938
- monument to Lenin in Ulyanovsk, 1941, awarded Stalin Prize second class
- bronze sculptures of the Hero of the Soviet Union Matvey Kuzmin and the Soviet military martyr Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, in the Partisanskaya station of the Moscow Metro, 1943, awarded Stalin Prize first class
- monument to the Metro builders, Electricity Factory station of the Moscow Metro, 1944
- monument to Ivan Pavlov in Ryazan, 1950, awarded Stalin Prize second class
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