Salvatore Scarpitta: Racing Cars

Jan 19, 2018 - Apr 22, 2018

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Salvatore Scarpitta, S.A.L Haist-Railduster Spl., 1966. Race car, 48 x 131 x 69 inches. Private collection, Milan.

Salvatore Scarpitta, Sal Cragar, 1969. Race car, 42 x 132 x 72 inches. Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

 

Salvatore Scarpitta, Autoritratto con auto da corsa (Auto Collage), 1966. Tempera and collage on cardboard, 25 ½ inches x 18 inches. Courtesy Amy Wolf Fine Art, New York, © Stella Alba Cartaino.

Salvatore Scarpitta, S.A.L Haist-Railduster Spl., 1966. Race car, 48 x 131 x 69 inches. Private collection, Milan.Salvatore Scarpitta, Sal Cragar, 1969. Race car, 42 x 132 x 72 inches. Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Salvatore Scarpitta, Autoritratto con auto da corsa (Auto Collage), 1966. Tempera and collage on cardboard, 25 ½ inches x 18 inches. Courtesy Amy Wolf Fine Art, New York, © Stella Alba Cartaino.

The late American artist Salvatore Scarpitta gained considerable recognition during the post-World War II period, known for works that pushed the boundaries of the painted canvas. Scarpitta was represented by Leo Castelli, who coaxed him from Italy to the United States following the war—the artist had been a member of the Italian resistance and later enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Scarpitta felt enlivened by the American art scene of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and his re-entry into the U.S. reconnected him with an early obsession—race cars. He was enthralled by dirt-track racing from the time he was a boy growing up in Los Angeles, and this fascination carried over into work that began in the 1960s. Scarpitta manufactured race cars as art, seeking to convey the sense of a hot car on a dirt track. Over time, Scarpitta evolved from object maker to true performance artist. As a racing team owner, he hired drivers and mechanics and competed in the American Mid Atlantic Leagues Sprint Cup circuit. CAM will present the largest number of his race car —life-size facsimiles and fully functional—ever assembled in the U.S. A wide selection of the artist’s racing themed artwork—drawings, paintings, prints, collages—document and investigate his lifelong artistic obsession with racing cars.

 

Salvatore Scarpitta: Racing Cars is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Lisa Melandri, Executive Director.