Salvatore Scarpitta

(New York, 1919 – 2007)


Salvatore Scarpitta, Jr. was born in New York City on March 23, 1919. His early life was spent in the studio of his father, the famed Sicilian architect and sculptor of the same name. After the family relocated to Hollywood, California, his mother pursued a career as an actress while his father completed a commission for the bas-relief sculptures of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building. He graduated from Hollywood High School and then attended the premier art university in Europe, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma.

After the war, Scarpitta remained in Rome and worked from his studio on Via Margutta. During his time in Rome he was represented by the leading Avant-garde modern art gallery in Italy, Galleria La Tartaruga. In 1958, Leo Castelli saw his work and asked him to move to New York and join his gallery. Scarpitta remained with Castelli until the latter's death in 1999.

Widely known as a pop artist who focused on found-object collages in his early career, Scarpitta’s work moved in a new direction in the 1960s. From 1964 to 1969, he used his childhood passion of racecars as inspiration. He built six racecars, two of which were displayed at the 1972 Venice Biennale. Scarpitta later expanded his interest to include skis and sleds, one of which was purchased by the artist Willem de Kooning.

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