This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features Paul Schimmel, the former chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the curator of the new MOCA exhibition “Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962.” The show is accompanied by a fascinating catalogue.
Schimmel’s exhibition examines the way artists responded to the unprecedented killing and destruction of World War II by (often) literally attacking the picture plane. The show, which features 26 artists (but only three Americans) charts the way artists used abstraction to respond to a post-atomic world, and in so doing offers an alternate history about post-abstract expressionism abstract art.
One of the artists in the show is Salvatore Scarpitta. From his catalogue essay, Paul Schimmel: “In the late 1950s, while residing in Rome, he created the first of his so called bandaged paintings, which suggest the influence of [Lucio] Fontana, [Alberto] Burri, and Piero Manzoni. Their genesis was an act of destruction: he would tear up oil canvases he had painted. ‘You are giving the canvas a beating,’ he once remarked.”
Image: Salvatore Scarpitta, Three More (detail), 1958-59.