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Conrad Marca-Relli Artworks

American Painter

Conrad Marca-Relli Photo

Born: June 5, 1913 - Boston, Massachusetts

Died: August 29, 2000 - Parma, Italy

Artworks 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)

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.

Seated Figure (1953-54)

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.

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Trial (1956)

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.

The Surge (1958)

In the late 1950s, Marca-Relli embarked on a series of works that were ambitious in their scale, complexity and color harmonies. With Surge, Marca-Relli abandoned his formerly subdued palette of off-white and ochre to introduce bold zones of color as a new formal element in his paintings. The jostling blue, red and yellow shapes that expand outwards from a tight mass at the centre of the canvas convey a sense of intense energy and movement.

Cristobal (L-12-62) (1962)

Cristobal displays Marca-Relli's developing interest in new materials such as vinyl and plastic. Created in 1962, this composition abandons painterly lyricism and any reference to naturalistic forms for bold geometric planes. The nails that hold the work together are deliberately left exposed to lend it an industrial appearance that is meant to suggest "the side of a freighter" in transit.

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Untitled A (1967)

Untitled A reveals Marca-Relli's continued desire to move beyond the gestures and materials traditionally associated with painting. This assemblage of planar, cut-out aluminum shapes reveals the artist's tendency towards formal reduction and simplicity in his later years. His experiments with metal came from his need to work with more resilient material than the canvas he had relied upon for previous collage work. This material introduced a new ambiguity regarding the artwork's definition as painting or sculpture.

Related Artists and Major Works

Still Life with Chair Caning (1912)

Artist: Pablo Picasso (Read Full Artist Overview, Biography, and Artworks pages)

Still Life with Chair Caning is celebrated for being modern art's first collage. Picasso had affixed preexisting objects to his canvases before, but this picture marks the first time he did so with such playful and emphatic intent. The chair caning in the picture in fact comes from a piece of printed oilcloth - and not, as the title suggests, an actual piece of chair caning. But the rope around the canvas is very real, and serves to evoke the carved border of a café table. Furthermore, the viewer can imagine that the canvas is a glass table, and the chair caning is the actual seat of the chair that can be seen through the table. Hence the picture not only dramatically contrasts visual space as is typical of Picasso's experiments, it also confuses our sense of what it is that we are looking at.

Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure) (1914)

Artist: Giorgio De Chirico

Not to be confused with a 1917 painting simply entitled The Melancholy of Departure, the present work, Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure), was dubbed an "architectonic masterpiece" by Robert Hughes. The presence of the architecture is central to its power, yet it is the way de Chirico treats the architecture that is so innovative; it is not intended to represent a particular place, or environment, but instead it is like a theatrical set - an unreal backdrop for unreal events. It is typical of the artist's work of the 1910s in its use of multiple vanishing points, deep colors, and elongated shadows of dusk. The clock tower and departing train possibly foreshadow his imminent departure to join the Italian army in the First World War. Trains are a familiar motif in de Chirico's work, functioning as a symbol of life and youthful expectation.

Mural (1943)

Artist: Jackson Pollock (Read Full Artist Overview, Biography, and Artworks pages)

Mural is an early tour de force in Pollock's career, a transition between his easel paintings and his signature drip canvases. This 'all over' painting technique was assimilated from a variety of sources: Picasso, Benton and Siqueiros, as well as Native American sand painting. Measuring nearly 8 x 20 ft, this was Pollock's first large-scale work, and was commissioned for Peggy Guggenheim's apartment. Although influenced by his earlier work in this format, Pollock struggled to control the composition. He incorporated decorative patterns in thinly brushed paint to achieve an intimate pattern within the grand scale. An apocryphal story exists that it was painted in one day and one night, though this is impossible given the quantity of layers in the picture.

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