Conrad Marca-Relli American, 1913-2000


Born Corrado Marcarelli, the artist was born in Boston in 1913. The son of a journalist, his father's assignments abroad meant that the family spent several years in Europe; it was during these formative years that the artist had his first art lessons in Italy. At age 13 he moved with his family to New York City. There he studied at the Cooper Union for a year, and later worked as a teacher for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and mural painter for the Federal Art Project. His work earned him the Logan Medal of the Arts. He later served in the army during World War II.


After returning from service, Marca-Relli joined the Downtown Group, comprised of avant-garde artists working in lower Manhattan. He had his first solo show in 1948, and was one of the founders of the Artists' Club. He was chosen by his peers to exhibit at the Ninth Street Show in 1951, and subsequently exhibited in every New York Painting and Sculpture Annual from 1953 to 1957. The Whitney Museum held a retrospective for Conrad Marca-Relli in 1967; of the artist, the show's curator, William Agee, said, "Marca-Relli's achievement has been to raise collage to a scale and complexity equal to that of monumental painting." After his death, he was made an honorary citizen of Italy. The artist is remembered for his charming nature, visionary abstraction, and fondness for fast cars.

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