Conrad Marca-Relli

Biography

Born in 1913, Conrad Marca-Relli is chiefly associated with the early New York-based movement of Abstract Expressionist artists following WWII. Other notable members of this group include Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline.

When Marca-Relli was 13, his family moved to New York, and in 1930 he studied at the Cooper Union for a year. He supported himself later by working for the Works Progress Administration as a teacher initially, and then in the mural painting divisions of the Federal Art Project. For his work during this time, Marca-Relli received the Logan Medal of Arts. 

Marca-Relli then served in WWII, returning to New York in 1946, and having his first solo exhibition in 1947 at the Niveau Gallery. Marca-Relli never forgot his Italian heritage as he worked; Alberto Burri and Giorgio de Chirico were huge influences for his drawing, as well as Italian renaissance architecture.

An active member of the Greenwich Village art scene, Marca-Relli founded the Club located on East 8th street, which primarily gave avant-garde artists like himself a place to talk and debate on art. His monumental collages which he is most famous for became his focus in the 1950s, and by the 1960s he started to experiment with various materials such as synthetic plastics and metals.

Marca-Relli was made an honorary Italian Citizen not long before his death in Parma in 2001.

Exhibitions of his work have included; Il Cortile, Rome (1948); New Gallery, New York (1950, 1951); Stable Gallery, New York (1953–58); Kootz Gallery, New York (1959–62); Galerie de France, Paris (1962); a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1967); Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf (1971); Marlborough Gallery, New York (1970, 1975, 1979); and retrospectives at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (1998); Mathildenhöhe Institute, Darmstadt, Germany (2000); and Rotonda di via Besana, Milan (2008).