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The Art of JAMA
October 16, 2013

Racer’s Pillow: Salvatore Scarpitta

JAMA. 2013;310(15):1540-1541. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5366

The American artist Salvatore Scarpitta (1919-2007) considered himself a painter, but most of his work after 1956, such as the voluminous wall hanging Racer's Pillow, an assemblage of canvas, leather straps, rivets, metal rods, and buckle hardware, is an allusion to the lure of risk and instinct for self-preservation in the world of automobile racing. Scarpitta grew up in the car culture of Los Angeles; one of his first artistic commissions was to paint the numbers on a racing car at age 14. Many years later he made and drove his own race car, narrowly escaping injury when it caught fire on the track. It was in his nature to take risks in the studio and in life, but he was also adept at getting out of a jam.