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Conrad Marca-Relli

(1913—2000)


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(1913–2000).

Collage artist, painter, sculptor, and printmaker. Best known for vigorously conceived, richly textured canvas collages collectively constituting a singular contribution to abstract expressionism, he nurtured an underlying classicism in works frequently marked by great lyrical breadth. From the 1960s, he often employed novel materials, such as vinyl or sheet metal. He also worked as a painter throughout most of his career and for a time produced sculptures stylistically related to the collages, which sometimes allude to the figure or to landscape. Born Corrado Marcarelli to Italian parents in Boston, he spent much of his childhood in Italy, where he began his study of art. As an adult, he continued to maintain ties there. His aesthetic owed much to the traditions of that country, as well as to its modern masters such as Giorgio de Chirico and, later, Alberto Burri. After studying briefly at Cooper Union, by the time he was eighteen he had begun working independently in New York. While employed as a painter and muralist for a federal art project during the later 1930s, he became acquainted with Willem de Kooning, John Graham, and Franz Kline. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army. By the end of the 1940s, he had abandoned his early surrealistic approach to embrace gestural abstraction. In 1953 he embarked on the signature collages, formed from irregular pieces of canvas or other fabric fixed to a canvas support and then painted. Around the same time, he moved to the eastern Long Island town East Hampton and became friendly with Jackson Pollock, who lived nearby. During the 1960s, while experimenting with other collage materials, he turned as well to sculpture, usually combining spare aluminum shapes to form suave reliefs and free-standing works. In the 1970s he began focusing once again on painting, although he never lost interest in the collage technique, and his characteristically muted palette expanded to include, on occasion, brighter tones. In later years, he lived at times in the northern New Jersey town of Wayne and in Sarasota, Florida, as well as several European locations, including Ibiza, Spain. Four years before his death he settled permanently in Parma, Italy.

Subjects: Art.


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