Ralph Fasanella was an activist whose megaphone was his paintbrush. His images, filled with symbolism, chronicles life in early twentieth-century New York, the American labor movement, the complex bonds of family, and the political injustices and social inequities of his time. His paintings teem with both gritty realities and his own hopeful visions for a prosperous working class.
Born in 1914 to Italian immigrant parents, Fasanella was intellectual without formality. Though he never attended art school, he enthusiastically studied the greats, was well read, and was confident in his developed knowledge of painting. He also had an easy way with people, and he found inspiration in those who, like him, worked hard and got their fingernails dirty. "His most accomplished works reveal the perversions and promises of the United States: the history of prejudice, oppression, and wage slavery, and the power of opposition, hope, and the struggle for a more egalitarian society," writes Marc Fasanella, the artist's son, in Ralph Fasanella: Images of Optimism. "He painted the beauty, poetry, and social cohesion that define a healthy existence. He communicated these concepts by employing the emotional resonance of persuasive visual metaphor. He painted optimism."
Ralph Fasanella: Images of Optimism showcases nearly seventy of Fasanella's vibrant images of social conscience. An essay by Leslie Umberger articulates Fasanella's life of action and the deep-seated drive behind his work, and Marc Fasanella offers personal perspectives on this artist of the people.
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