Oral history interview with Salvatore Scarpitta, 1975 January 31.-February 3
Scarpitta, Salvatore, 1919-2007
Cummings, Paul, 1933-
De Kooning, Willem
American Academy in Rome
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 67 pages.
Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 11 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Interview of Salvatore Scarpitta conducted 1975 January 31.-February 3, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art. Scarpitta speaks of his family's background; growing up and going to school in California; moving to Italy and going to art school at 17; attending the American Academy; his experiences in Europe after the war broke out in 1940; being arrested and interned for 18 months in Italy and escaping; joining the United States Navy; getting thrown out of the American Academy after being accused of being a Communist; his abstract paintings; moving back to America after Leo Castelli saw his work; his painting techniques; his thoughts on futurism and cubism; why he shifted from working on a canvas to tearing it apart and using it as materials; his use of color; how his interest in race cars influenced his art work; building race cars; living in New York and the art scene there; his successful art show on the Piazza San Marco in Venice; the reason for using belts in his paintings; how certain paintings led him to building sleds; his feelings about Leo Castelli; and teaching art. He recalls Phil Guston, Jack Levine, Franz Kline, Bill de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, and many others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Salvatore Scarpitta, 1975 January 31.-February 3. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007) was a sculptor.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001