Conrad Marca Relli Biography

_Born Boston, Massachusetts


American artist Conrad Marca-Relli is recognized as one of the American masters of COLLAGE and part of the first generation of ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM. Self-taught, except for a brief stint at Cooper Union in New York City, he has exhibited often in New York City, Europe and Latin America.

Marca-Relli was born in Boston of Italian parents. From 1935 to 1938, he worked for the WPA Federal Art Project. He spent four years in the US Army before settling in New York City. Although he traveled in Europe, the United States and Mexico, his frequent trips to Italy had the greatest effect on his early paintings.

Marca-Relli's early cityscapes, still lifes, circus themes and architectural motifs are reminiscent of Italian surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico. The subdued palette and architectural starkness of these paintings create a sense of loneliness and emptiness typical of the surrealists.

Throughout his career Marca-Relli created with monumental-scale collages in, combining oil painting and collage, employing intense colors, broken surfaces and expressionistic spattering. He also experimented with metal and vinyl materials for an industrial effect. Over the years the collages developed an abstract simplicity, evidenced by black or somber colors and rectangular shapes isolated against a neutral backdrop.

Marca-Relli taught at Yale University from 1954 to 1955 and from 1959 to 1960, and at the University of California at Berkeley. His first one-man show was in New York City in 1948, and in 1967 the Whitney Museum of Modern Art gave him a retrospective show.