Salvatore Meo and the Poetics of Assemblage
Under-recognized in American art history, Salvatore Meo was a pioneer of assemblage art during the mid-20th century. His mixed-media works—largely composed of discarded items found on the street—were a forerunner to the Arte Povera movement. The scraps Meo used in his work included items such as the grubby head of a doll, a shoe heel, string, and rusted wire, which acted as lyrical evocations of decay and abandonment. As an “artist’s artist” and equally important a “critic’s artist,” his impact was deeply felt by such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and many others. Born in South Philadelphia of Italian parents in 1914, by 1951 Meo was a permanent resident in Rome. This exhibition draws key works from his studio, located directly behind the Trevi fountain, which has been preserved in its original state since the artist’s death in 2004.