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Artists Conrad Marca-Relli
Conrad Marca-Relli Photo

Conrad Marca-Relli

American Painter

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: June 5, 1913 - Boston, Massachusetts

Died: August 29, 2000 - Parma, Italy

Conrad Marca-Relli Timeline

Quotes

"Painting has nothing to do with imitating life. It has a life of its own life, in it reality is based on its own rules."
Conrad Marca-Relli
"You get a linear quality from collage that is more rapid than the swiftest drawn line."
Conrad Marca-Relli

"Collage forces you to think and clarify ideas, with regard to both space and volumes. This discipline obliges me to think in terms of forms, outlines, real and imagined spaces, so as not to fall into the temptation of thinking that nature is a reality."

Conrad Marca-Relli Signature

Synopsis

Conrad Marca-Relli was a Boston-born painter and sculptor who belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist artists. Following a period of painting Surrealist inspired imagery, Marca-Relli made a critical breakthrough with large-scale collage paintings that frequently drew inspiration from the human form to create abstract compositions of interlocking curves and angles. He is considered to be one of the first artists to raise the art of collage to a status comparable with monumental painting, which paved the way for the large "combine paintings" of the Neo-Dada artists of the 1960s.

Key Ideas

Early in his career, Marca-Relli recognized that for abstraction to be emotionally moving, the use of psychologically affecting shapes and textures were necessary. Contours and shapes in his work were therefore based on imagined architectural themes or figure arrangements but were deliberately left ambiguous.
Marca-Relli took a constructive approach to image making, building up surfaces by cutting out and applying shapes to canvas or metal supports. He did not seek gestural movement or uncontrolled spontaneity, but sought to create controlled, complex compositions of interlocking forms.
Marca-Relli maintained strong links to Europe throughout his life and did not wish to break from the traditions of the "Old World" unlike many of his contemporaries. He lived and worked in France, Spain, and Italy and looked to European painters from the Renaissance, Cubism, and metaphysical movements for inspiration.

Biography

Conrad Marca-Relli Photo

Childhood

Conrad Marca-Relli was born Corrado di Marcarelli in Boston, Massachusetts to Italian immigrant parents. Marca-Relli's father was a news commentator and a journalist whose job required frequent travel, he therefore spent much of his childhood moving back and forth between the United States and Europe. He began to draw at an early age and was encouraged by his family to pursue his artistic interests, taking his first lessons during his many extended trips to Italy. There he developed a lasting feeling for the heritage of Italian art and culture and the atmosphere of European life. When he was thirteen, Marca-Relli and his parents permanently settled in New York, where Marca-Relli finished his last year of high school at night so he could dedicate his days to painting.

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Conrad Marca-Relli Biography Continues

Important Art by Conrad Marca-Relli

The below artworks are the most important by Conrad Marca-Relli - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Untitled (1940)
Artwork Images

Untitled (1940)

Artwork description & Analysis: This untitled painting from 1940 reveals the influence of Giorgio di Chirico on Marca-Relli's early career as a painter. This strangely unpopulated square is strongly evocative of di Chirico's enigmatic imagery inspired by the architecture and melencholy atmosphere of Turin. The archway in the background indicate the scene is an imagined European city with its tilted perspective enhancing the flatness of the picture plane.

Oil on board - Private Collection

Seated Figure (1953-54)
Artwork Images

Seated Figure (1953-54)

Artwork description & Analysis: Seated Figure won Marca-Relli the prestigious Logan Medal of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1954. The composition was produced during a period in which the artist focused almost exclusively on interpretations of single figures using layered planes of collaged canvas. In these works, Marca-Relli sought to explore abstract form using "the architecture of the human figure" as a starting point for interchanges between light and dark, positive and negative space.

Oil and canvas on linen - The Art Institute of Chicago

Trial (1956)
Artwork Images

Trial (1956)

Artwork description & Analysis: The interlocking biomorphic forms in Trial represent the increasing complexity of Marca-Relli's collage technique during the 1950s. The artist has deliberately obliterated any recognizable sections of human anatomy, yet the work suggests a myriad of jostling figures. This vast composition combines an extraordinary variety of overlapping shapes, textures and contrasts to create a sense of movement that was inspired in part by Paolo Uccello's monumental battle scenes.

Oil on canvas and collage - The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

More Conrad Marca-Relli Artwork and Analysis:



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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Conrad Marca-Relli
Interactive chart with Conrad Marca-Relli's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Paolo UccelloPaolo Uccello
Henri RousseauHenri Rousseau
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Georges BraqueGeorges Braque
Giorgio de ChiricoGiorgio de Chirico

Personal Contacts

Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Franz KlineFranz Kline
Eleanor WardEleanor Ward
Philip GustonPhilip Guston

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Metaphysical ArtMetaphysical Art
ConstructivismConstructivism
CubismCubism

Influences on Artist
Conrad Marca-Relli
Conrad Marca-Relli
Years Worked: 1953 - 2000
Influenced by Artist

Artists

AfroAfro
Alberto BurriAlberto Burri

Personal Contacts

Harold RosenbergHarold Rosenberg
Leo CastelliLeo Castelli

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Art InformelArt Informel
Neo-DadaNeo-Dada

Useful Resources on Conrad Marca-Relli

Books

Articles

Videos

The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.

paintings

Conrad Marca-Relli Recomended resource

By David Anfam

Conrad Marca-Relli

By Conrad Marca-Relli

Marca-Relli: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, November 6th, 1979 through January 1st, 1980

By Conrad Marca-Relli

Conrad Marca-Relli: City to Town Recomended resource

By Phong Bui
The Brooklyn Rail
June 3, 2011

Celebrating a Few Fertile Years in the Hamptons

By Karin Lipson
The New York Times
April 30, 2011

Conrad Marca-Relli: The New York Years, 1945-1967

By Craig Olson
The Brooklyn Rail
October 5, 2009

Conrad Marca-Relli, Collagist and Painter, Is Dead at 87 Recomended resource

By Michael Kimmelman
The New York Times
August 31, 2000

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
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