A singular figure in postwar American art, Salvatore Scarpitta traversed a wide terrain, crossing the presumed borders between painting and sculpture, abstraction and realism, art and everyday experience. Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Scarpitta began his career in Rome after the Second World War and completed it on the dirt-track speedways of rural Pennsylvania and Marlyand.... The themes that preoccupied him throughout his life: risk, movement, death, and rebirth.
Driving Scarpitta's art forward through its many iterations was a persistent desire to "introduce into the art experience the life experience." He resided in Italy from 1936 to 1958 and experienced the disasters of Fascism first hand. The body of work from this is called his Extramurals. Returning to New York in 1958, Scarpitta's art in the 1960s continues to allude to the body and mortality, but references the risks of car racing rather than war. As with his earlier work, the car-part paintings are cut and bruised, bandaged and bound.... Many employ combinations of red and yellow, the hot hues signaling both the danger of the track and the contradictory joyfulness of the drivers' pursuit.