Conrad Marca-Relli - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Germany (acquired directly from the artist)
    Christie's, New York, November 8, 1990, lot 318
    Hoh Collection, Germany (acquired at the above sale)
    Sotheby's, London, July 2, 2008, lot 198
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Conrad Marca-Relli’s collaging together of cut pieces of canvas, as seen in the present lot, The Woman of Samura, 1958, creates a unique sense of depth, with the numerous scattered patches appearing as an armor-plating on the raw canvas lining, fracturing the picture plane. Marca-Relli’s approach was also part of a conceptual process of selection: incorporating only the most essential elements to create a painting. While his early collages were rendered in a subdued palette of grays and whites, Marca-Relli later began a series of large-scale collages in the late 1950s, introducing bold colors that would expand outwards to convey intense movement. The Woman of Samura from 1958 is a prime example of this period, which is known to be the artist’s most mature and iconic, in which the artist depicts fragments of human forms and anonymous faceless figures, absorbed into a background that Marca-Relli described as “the architecture of figure”. These canvas patches also function as outlines, transforming these forms into silhouettes. The oscillation between figuration and abstraction, in this unique medium, was at the core of Marca-Relli’s practice.

    A child of Italian Immigrants who spent most of his life between New York and Europe, Marca-Relli belonged to an early generation of the New York school of Abstract Expressionists. While his early works were largely figurative and Surrealist, by 1949, Marca-Relli’s works gradually became more abstract, influenced by Arshile Gorky’s biomorphic forms. He first exhibited these works in a 1951 exhibition curated by Leo Castelli called Ninth Street Show, which was arguably the most comprehensive show of Abstract Expressionism of its time. During a trip to Mexico in 1953, Marca-Relli began experimenting with collage due to a lack of his typical art materials. This experimentation was a harbinger of the large-scale collage paintings for which he would become most famous.

Property from an Important American Collection


The Woman of Samura

signed "MARCA-RELLI" lower right; further signed, titled, inscribed and dated "MARCA-RELLI X-L-14-58 MARCA-RELLI X-L-14 "WOMAN OF SAMURA" 1958" on the reverse
oil, chalk and canvas collage on canvas
63 1/2 x 59 3/4 in. (161.3 x 151.8 cm.)
Executed in 1958.

This work is registered with the Archivio Marca-Relli, Parma, as archive number MARE-6089 / © Archivio Marca-Relli, Parma.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $375,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018