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Attilio Salemme

(1911 - 1955)

An artist who died too young – a heart attack at age forty-three – Attilio Salemme's paintings juxtapose elongated vertical rectangles in complex relationships that suggest groups of "presences," near human beings lonely in their inability to break through the artist's geometric overlay to attain human status.

Salemme was born in 1911 in Boston of a father who also died as a young man. Called upon to help support his mother and sister, Salemme left school, eventually joining the Marines at age sixteen in 1927.

Back in New York City in 1930 in the first years of the Depression, Salemme found assorted jobs to support himself, his mother and sister. He started to think seriously of art as a career while living in the artistic milieu of Greenwich Village, though he had a conflicting interest in science.

He met his wife and other artists when he got a job as a framer in 1942 at the precursor of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Guggenheim Museum of Non-Objective Art.

Salemme died in 1955, and while not a major artist, his paintings were acknowledged for their surreal and metaphysical uniqueness. They may be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.