Italian Sale Lot 105_Scarpitta_harness for loving
Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007)

Harness for Loving

Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007)
Harness for Loving
signed and dated 'Scarpitta 64' (lower left); signed, titled and dated 'SCARPITTA ‘Harness’for loving’ 1964' (on the reverse)
painted canvas, hooks and belts
47 7/8 x 41 7/8in. (121.5 x 106.5cm.)
Executed in 1964
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
Galleria Notizie, Turin.
Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia.
L. Sansone Collection, Milan.
Galleria Niccoli - ACIG, Parma.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the late 1990s.
G. Di Genova, Storia dell'Arte Italiana del '900, Bologna 1990, p. 262.
L. Sansone, Salvatore Scarpitta. Catalogue Raisonné, Milan 2005, no. 335 (illustrated, p. 190; illustrated in colour, p. 360).
Turin, Galleria Notizie, Salvatore Scarpitta, 1972, no. 16 (illustrated, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Brescia, Studio C.
Milan, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Salvatore Scarpitta 1958-1985, 1985-1986, p. 43 (illustrated, p. 28).
Arona, ex Convento della Purificazione, Scarpitta, 1998, no. 20, p. 78 (illustrated in colour, p. 52; historical installation view illustrated, p. 27).
Bagheria, Civica Galleria Renato Guttuso, Scarpitta, 1999, no. 66, p. 145 (illustrated in colour, p. 106).
Castelluccio di Pienza, La Tartaruga Associazione per l'Arte Contemporanea/Galleria Niccoli Parma, Scarpitta, 2000.
Milan, Centro d'Arte Arbur, Scarpitta, 2000-2001, no. 20, p. 94 (illustrated in colour, p. 48).
Perugia, CERP - Centro Espositivo Rocca Paolina, Oltre la Superficie, attraversamento - estroflessione - disseminazione, 2001 (illustrated in colour, p. 51).
Turin, GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Salvatore Scarpitta, 2012-2013, no. 41, p. 280 (illustrated in colour, p. 175).
Milan, Studio Gariboldi, Salvatore Scarpitta, 2014 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Mariolina Bassetti
Mariolina Bassetti

Lot Essay

‘One hopes that the viewer will see beyond the objective fact under his eyes and will transcend it. It’s the process of transmutation of a physical object into spirit, which is a purely artistic fact, and I believe in this as the objective of my way of being an artist’

‘I started using certain things tied to the canvases, like seatbelts, buckles for harnesses, buckles from parachutes, aeronautical straps or straps from racing cars, exhaust pipes, and I grafted these things into my canvas, as if to take myself back toward a world that was more reassuring, now that I was back in America’

Executed in 1964 and widely exhibited ever since, Harness for Loving is one of Salvatore Scarpitta’s final ‘bandaged’ works, a breakthrough and career defining series that he had begun in 1958. Using pieces of torn canvas layered atop one another and coated in glue, the artist created a new form of art that turned the tools and materials of art making into the artwork itself. At once painting and sculpture, the material composition of these works collapsed the distinctions between subject and object to become instead a three-dimensional, autonomous object. Over the subsequent years, the artist developed these bandaged works to become ever more complex entities. In Harness for Loving, Scarpitta has incorporated a tangle of belts, harnesses and hooks into the composition, creating a large and visceral structure strewn in places with vibrant red paint that resonates with a striking potency. Standing at the pinnacle of this important series, this is one of last bandaged works that Scarpitta executed before he made an abrupt change of direction, creating replicas and sculptural constructions of racing cars.

After the artist’s break out exhibition in Rome in 1958, he met the legendary gallerist and dealer Leo Castelli. Persuaded by Castelli to return to his native USA, Scarpitta decided to leave Italy and set sail for New York at the beginning of 1959. This was to be a decisive moment in the artist’s career; as he described, ‘In January 1959 I disembarked in America together with my works. I had decided: I felt that the period of Roman art was over. After all, everything runs its course. I understood that the situation was starting to change in Rome: people were starting to imitate American Pop Art and to remove the true content of “our” Italian art… But at the time maybe I didn’t even reason too much, I felt like it was an inner personal need: the desire had come back to understand where I came from’ (Scarpitta, quoted in L. Sansone, Salvatore Scarpitta: Catalogue Raisonné, Milan, 2005, p. 67). Returning to America, the country he was born in though had left in 1936, when his family moved from California to Rome, Scarpitta was met with a wealth of new inspiration. Befriending many of the Abstract Expressionists and New York School of artists in downtown Manhattan, including Willem De Kooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko and David Smith, he started to move away from the stripped down, reduced aesthetic of his earlier work, and integrate new components and external references into his practice.

The harnesses and belts that criss-cross the surface of Harness for Loving can be regarded as a reflection of Scarpitta’s interest in the world of motorcar racing. As a child he had a passion for racecars, and on his return to America, became immersed in this world once more. In contrast to Italy, a war ravaged country just beginning to undergo industrialisation, America in the early 1960s was a place of rapid modernisation and consumerism with a booming economy. Here, Scarpitta embraced modern American life, reconnecting with the world of his past. This had an immediate effect on his art. ‘I started using certain things tied to the canvases’, he later explained, ‘like seatbelts, buckles for harnesses, buckles from parachutes, aeronautical straps or straps from racing cars, exhaust pipes, and I grafted these things into my canvas, as if to take myself back toward a world that was more reassuring, now that I was back in America’ (ibid.,p. 72).

The two cuts that sever through the pieces of canvas in Harness for Loving are immediately reminiscent of Lucio Fontana’s contemporaneous tagli. Scarpitta’s torn up canvases are often connected to Fontana’s slashes; indeed, it has been suggested that Scarpitta was the first to tear through the canvas itself, serving as a major influence on Fontana who would do the same a year later in 1958. Whether or not this is true, the motivations for both artists in their assault on the traditional picture plane were different. While for Fontana, the slash – a slick, singular and deeply elegant gesture – was entirely conceptual in its genesis, for Scarpitta, the holes through the pieces of torn canvas were a result of the layering of pieces of canvas. In the present work, the horizontal slits that penetrate the top half of the canvas have a visceral and corporeal quality. They resonate with a powerful vitality absent in the clean conceptualism of Fontana’s equivalent works, and in the present context, serve to heighten the sexual undertones of the work, implied by the tangle of criss-crossed belts across the ripped canvas, and by its title, Harness for Loving.

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