Conrad Marca-Relli dies

Friday, September 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK – Conrad Marca-Relli, an American artist linked to abstract expressionism and known for making large patchwork collages of cut pieces of canvas, died Tuesday at his home in Parma, Italy. He was 87.

In 1967, when the Whitney Museum of American Art organized a retrospective of his work, show curator William Agee said, "Marca-Relli's achievement has been to raise collage to a scale and complexity equal to that of monumental painting."

John Canaday, reviewing the show in The New York Times, described the artist's "success in bringing restlessly energetic forms into static position without deadening them, his strong echoes of classical architecture as filtered through the Italian Renaissance, and his increasing interest in high polish."

Born in Boston in 1913, Mr. Marca-Relli was the son of a journalist whose assignments abroad allowed the family to spend years in Europe. He had his first art lessons as a boy in Italy. In the United States, he attended Cooper Union briefly and then, at 18, struck out on his own. He taught art, worked as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines and joined the Federal Art Project of the WPA, through which he met Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and John Graham. His acquaintance with them helped familiarize him with modernism.

His work was frequently shown and collected. Among recent exhibitions were a survey last year at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and another this year in Darmstadt, Germany. Last year he was made an honorary citizen of Italy.