Summer Noon is a large-scale Abstract Expressionist masterwork by Conrad Marca-Relli, one of the best of the American Post-War painters. Once he shrugged off the de Chirico influence of his early works and began his trademark canvas collages in the 1950s, Marca-Relli created some of the most significant and recognizable works of his generation.
His canvas collages begin in earnest in 1953, when the artist took cut scraps of canvas, generally of subdued colors, and created works that reference figures, interiors and landscapes. In many ways, Marca-Relli followed the lead of Pollock, whose works like Mural were both abstract and figurative, and incorporated line with suggestive shapes.
In the late 1950s, Marca-Relli embarked on a series of works that are ambitious in their scale, complexity and color harmonies, and are among the best of his oeuvre. Summer Noon (1958) is a quintessential example in which the biomorphic collage elements reference figuration and landscape, yet remains elusive to literal interpretation. "Summer Noon, painted in California, is suggestive of a Moroccan odalisque; large undulating, reposeful, and colorful shapes lend an effect that is rich and exotic. In this and certain other works Marca-Relli gave his collage shapes greater dominance using colored cloth, with the principal color, in some degree enhance or varied by paint, folowing the forms" (H. Arnason, Marca-Relli, 1963). What sets Summer Noon (1958) apart from other examples is its unabashed use of glorious color, used with a confidence that would seldom be equaled in his work--"He had for years subordinated color in order to solve all the problems of organization of space and movement...now he was able through color to enhance the movement on the surface as well as in depth" (Ibid).
Other large-scale works from this period are in important public collections, such as The Surge (1958) in the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Hurdle (1958) in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Junction (1958) in the Whitney Museum of American Art.