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  • Provenance

    Mario Franchetti, Rome; Galleria Sprovieri, Rome

  • Exhibited

    Rome, Galleria La Tartaruga, Scarpitta, 1958; Venice, Chiesa di San Samuele, Artisti italiani contemporanei 1950-1983, 1983, no. 21; Bagheria, Civica Galleria Renato Guttuso, Scarpitta, 1999, no. 18.

  • Literature

    L. Sansone, Salvatore Scarpitta, Catalogue Raisonné, Gabriele Mazzotta: Milan, 2005, p.167 (illustrated); Chiesa di San Samuele, ed., Artisti italiani contemporanei 1950 – 1983, Venice 1983, p. 83 (illustrated); F. Gualdoni, Salvatore Scarpitta 1958 – 1985, Milan 1985, p. 6 (illustrated); G. Di Genova, Storia dell’arte italiana del ‘900 – Generazione anni Dieci, Bologna 1990, p. 261; Civica Galleria Renato Guttuso, ed., Scarpitta, Bagheria, 1999, pp. 141 – 42 (illustrated); L. Volpano, Pittura degli anni ’50 in Italia, exh. cat., Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, 2003, p. 45 (illustrated); L. Sansone, Salvatore Scarpitta: Catalogue Raisonné, Milan, 2005, no. 220 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Throughout his long career, the Italian-American artist Salvatore Scarpitta has literally and figuratively stripped, ripped, twisted,draped, stretched and stitched the canvas to create works that have come to redefine painting. Over half a century ago, Scarpitta made the bold and unprecedented decision to break free from the constriction of the rectangle and the dimensional confines of the stretcher. The resulting assemblages of layered, textured canvas have an real, physical three-dimensionality never seen before in painting.
    Executed in Rome in 1958, the large scale, visceral and colourful Trapped Canvas is one of the artist’s most important works, certainly his most accomplished to come to auction. Trapped Canvas is made up of a webbed fabric, reminiscent of the medical clothes used in childbirth or surgery, which Scarpitta found in Army surplus stores. The artist then coloured and textured the raw material by rubbing it with pure pigment and dipping it in resin. Scarpitta had personal experience of war, and his ripped bandage strips are suggestive of wounds and healing, invoking both survival and death. Wrought with a physical tension, Trapped Canvas speaks to man’s potential for spiritual renewal.
    Like his fellow Italian artist Alberto Burri, Salvatore Scarpitta saw active service in World War II. However, unlike Burri – who was interned at an American prisoner of war camp in Texas – Americanborn Scarpitta fought for the Allied forces as a ‘Monuments Man’ in the United States Navy, preserving and cataloguing art stolen by Nazis. With a common thematic and formal approach to their respective oeuvres, both Burri and Scarpitta, who settled in Rome after the war, dealt with the psychological trauma of having witnessed so closely the horror of man’s darkest hour. Using unorthodox, industrial materials, both turned to abstraction to create a visual language able to express their experiences.
    “The strips transmit a sensation of strength, but also defence and protection; they are a symbol of conservation in the fundamental moments of life, from birth, to war experiences, to death with the certainty of a future existence, as ancient civilizations, especially that of Egypt, attest. Strips and beneficent binders that contain, hold back, conserve and preserve vital energy, which in us is the will to survive.” (Luigi Sansone, Salvatore Scarpitta: Catalogue Raisonné, Milan, 2005, p. 14)


Trapped Canvas

Bandages and mixed media on board.
111 x 181 cm (43 3/4 x 71 1/4 in).
Signed and dated 'Scarpitta - 1958' on the reverse.

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £409,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2010