Ed Clark was born May 6, 1926, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and in 1933, as part of the Great Migration, his family moved north, seeking a better life and opportunity in Chicago. Before graduating high school, Clark enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and served in Guam during WWII. With funding from the G. I. Bill, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1947-51 then decamped to Paris in 1952 to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where he lived for the next five years.
Clark describes the atmosphere at la Grande Chaumière as, "laid back, like a workshop, you could just show up," which was in stark opposition to the academic, regimented structure of the École des Beaux-Arts. Clark felt that the Art Institute of Chicago had already given him a strong academic understanding of painting, so he was ready for the more open approach la Grande Chaumière offered. This freedom and the influence of French modernists such as Nicholas de Stael, Pierre Soulages, and Jean-Paul Riopelle allowed Clark to break down Cubist thought, Fauvist thought, and French Impressionist thought, in search of a synthesis of style all his own.
He became part of a circle of expatriate African-Americans that included the writers James Baldwin and Richard Wright, the painters Beauford Delaney and Herbert Gentry, and Barbara Chase-Riboud. In a few years, Clark was a young star showing at the best galleries in Paris, a leading light for the American art world. By 1958 Clark came to New York and became a charter member of Brata (Brother) Gallery, one of the several co-operative galleries on 10th Street, with fellow artists, Al Held, Yayoi Kusama, and Ron Bladen. He associated with other 1st and 2nd generation Abstract Expressionists at the Cedar Tavern and connected with his friend Robert Blackburn at his printmaking workshop.
These intaglio relief prints were all made at Robert Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop in the 1970s-80s. Clark and Blackburn were old friends by this point. Blackburn, known for finding new means and inventing various printmaking techniques, was able to reinvent the elegance and subtle shifts in color of Clark’s concurrent dynamic, large-scale oval paintings.