Conrad Marca-Relli: Special Presentation
19 East 64 Street, New York
September 14 - November 25, 2023
Explore Conrad Marca-Relli: Special Presentation on the top floor of Lévy Gorvy Dayan's historic New York townhouse at 19 East 64th Street. The exhibition, now extended through November 25, 2023, showcases six of the New York school artist's celebrated collage works.
Marca-Relli was a key figure within the bourgeoning Abstract Expressionist movement. During the Depression, he worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1935 to 1938. Marca-Relli became acquainted with Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline through his WPA work. After serving in the Second World War and living abroad, he became active in the Greenwich Village art scene, where he helped found the Club, a central meeting point for the artists often counted as part of the New York School. In 1951, Marca-Relli participated in the seminal Ninth Street Show alongside de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, and Ad Reinhardt, among many others. Historical accounts often exclude Marca-Relli from Abstract Expressionism due to long periods spent in Europe and a continued focus on the human figure throughout his oeuvre. Close analysis of his life and work reveals his central presence and importance to this context, alongside the drive to be independent and explore abstraction on his terms.
The artist initiated his celebrated collages during the first half of the 1950s, prompted by an experience visiting Mexico in 1952. Staying in the town of San Miguel de Allende, Marca-Relli was fascinated by the play light on the façades of adobe buildings and, lacking the appropriate paints, turned to collage to capture the vision. From this moment on, he experimented with the superimposition of fragments of canvas, paper, plastic, aluminum, wood, and other materials on canvas or panel, overlaid or interposed with gestural marks of paint, arriving at the definitive style exemplified by works such as those on view in Conrad Marca-Relli: Special Presentation.