Italo Scanga Biography

Italo Scanga




Italian-American sculptor and painter Italo Scanga was born in Lago, Calabria, Italy on June 6 1932, the youngest of four. Scanga's early life produced themes that would play out in his career: As world war became imminent, his mother attempted to follow her husband, who had moved to the U.S. a couple years prior; on the day of their planned departure in 1939, American troops invaded Italy, and they had to stay in Lago for the duration of the war. While there, Scanga worked as a cabinetmaker's apprentice and studied with a sculptor who created busts of saints. When the war drew to a close in 1945 they were able to resume preparations for their move to the United States, and in 1947, they reunited with Scanga's father in Marion Point, Pennsylvania.

Italo found a job working evenings on an assembly line at General Motors, attending high school as well as enrolling in classes at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Detroit. After graduating from high school at the age of 21 (due to language difficulties), he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Austria in the armored tanks division from 1953 to 1956. After he returned to Michigan he enrolled at Michigan State University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1960 and a master's degree in sculpture one year later. Italo married Mary Louise Ashley in 1956 and, while starting a family of 2 children, graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. as well as studying welded sculpture with Lindsey Decker and further study with Charles Pollock, Jackson Pollock's brother. In 1961 he got a job teaching sculpture at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, with Leo Steppat.

Scanga would go on to exhibit and teach throughout the U.S., eventually settling in Pacific City, California. He was known primarily for his work with found objects, though his ouvre includes painting, printmaking, and ceramics.

Scanga’s work is represented in museum collections around the world, including Albertina Museum, Vienna; The Art Institute of Chicago; Berkeley Art Museum + Pacific Film Archive; Detroit Institute of Arts; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and many others.

Italo Scanga died on July 27, 2001 in Pacific Beach, California.