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Salvatore Scarpitta, Matrimonio segreto (Extramural n. 6) (Secret Marriage [Extramural n. 6]), 1958, bandages, mixed media, 64 1/8 × 51 1/8". © Stella Alba Cartaino.

Salvatore Scarpitta

Luxembourg & Dayan | New York

Salvatore Scarpitta, Matrimonio segreto (Extramural n. 6) (Secret Marriage [Extramural n. 6]), 1958, bandages, mixed media, 64 1/8 × 51 1/8". © Stella Alba Cartaino.

All lives are unique, but none more so than that of Salvatore Scarpitta. New York–born in 1919 but Hollywood-bred, Scarpitta developed an early obsession with the automotive. At seventeen, he landed in Palermo, Italy—his father was born in Sicily—before moving on to Rome, then at the zenith of the Mussolini imperium. He studied at the Accademie di Belle Arti there until 1940, with studio space granted at the American Academy. (One wonders what this early “academic” painting looked like considering the conservatism of those institutions, especially at that time.)

Following Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II, Scarpitta, an American citizen, became an enemy alien. Imprisoned on the distant outskirts of Rome, he made his escape—the details of which are outlined in Raffaele Bedarida’s suggestive catalogue essay—in 1943. Now an outlaw

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