Salvatore Scarpitta

Salvatore Scarpitta

Salvatore Scarpitta is known for his bandaged and mutilated canvases as well as his race car works—some of which are fully functioning vehicles—to establish an oeuvre that achieved a distinctive combination of materiality and abstraction. Born in New York City in 1919, the artist was raised in Los Angeles, studied at the Academia di Belle Arti in Rome, and then served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a Monuments Man— tracking down master art works that had been pilfered by Nazi soldiers. After the war, the artist’s work caught the attention of renowned dealer Leo Castelli who encouraged Scarpitta to move back to New York in 1958. Castelli exhibited the artist’s work in no less than ten solo exhibitions between 1959 and 1992; Scarpitta was also included in several Venice Biennales during his lifetime. His work may be found in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston—which hosted a solo show of the artist in 1977—and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., which staged a retrospective exhibition in 2014 – 15. The artist passed away in 2007.

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