Conrad Marca-Relli was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1913, and during his childhood and youth in Europe, he received his first art lessons in Italy. In 1926, he settled in New York City where he studied at various schools including Cooper Union. From 1935 to 1938, he was a WPA artist with the Federal Art Project, and this job was his first opportunity to devote himself exclusively to his artwork. It also brought him into contact with other New York modernists such as Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. From 1948 to 1949, he was again in Europe and turned to Surrealist circus and architectural themes influenced by Giorgio de Chirico and Henri Rousseau. In Rome, he completed his first body of important works, based on Italian Renaissance architectural themes and circus motifs. These paintings were later exhibited in New York City at the Niveau Gallery. Marc-Relli returned to New York where he pursued a style of controlled, sharp edged, biomorphic shapes with urban themes. Marca-Relli went to a trip to Mexico in 1953 where he was impressed by the contrasts between flat white adobe buildings and the black shadows on them from the brilliant sun. To achieve a similar look, Marca-Relli developed a collage method of sketching forms on bare canvas, cutting them out with razor blades, coating them with layers of paint, and attaching them to a supporting canvas in a rearranged juxtaposition. Between the attachments, he began adding paint and strips of canvas, which suggested abstract figures and anatomical fragments. By 1960, his collages were totally nonobjective. Marca-Relli is the collections of many museums including MoMA, Guggenheim, Smithsonian, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.