Hirshhorn Plaza

Installation view of Salvatore Scarpitta: Traveler at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 2014. Front: Sal Cragar, 1969. Rear, left to right: Racer’s Pillow, 1963; Moby Dick (Extramural-Composition n. 3), 1958; and Drummer Sergeant, 1963. Photo: Cathy Carver

Friday, October 24

Length: 24:45  Download | Listen in iTunes

Assistant curator Melissa Ho leads a tour of Salvatore Scarpitta: Traveler, providing an overview of the artist’s career.

A fascinating and singular figure in postwar art, Salvatore Scarpitta (1919–2007) created a powerful body of work that ranges from nonobjective abstraction to radical realism. Scarpitta’s career linked the worlds of art and car racing, moving from the avant-garde cultural circles of postwar Rome to the banked dirt oval speedways of rural Maryland and Pennsylvania. Focusing on his shaped and wrapped canvases, race cars, and sleds, Salvatore Scarpitta: Traveler illuminates themes that occupied the artist throughout his life: risk, movement, death, and rebirth. Deeply admired in Europe where he began his career, Scarpitta has yet to be fully recognized in his native United States. This will be the first solo presentation of his work at an American museum in over a decade, and the first ever on the East Coast.