Maldarelli immigrated to the United States from his native Naples as a child. At fourteen he took lessons in drawing and clay modeling, and after two years began study at the National Academy of Design with Leon Kroll, Ivan Olinsky, and Hermon McNeil. In 1912 he entered the Beaux-Arts Institute, where Jo Davidson and Elie Nadelman became particular influences. A classicist with modern tendencies, Maldarelli's early abstract work reflected a brief flirtation with primitivism; but in 1935 he became dissatisfied with the separation of form and content and turned to figural work. Maldarelli is best known for sculptures of female forms in which volume, mass, and contour are overriding concerns. A teacher at Columbia University for many years, Maldarelli received a number of sculptural commissions throughout the 1940s and 1950s.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)