Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Salon: A Favorite Painting or Two.....or Three!

Night Game 1981 source

Workers' Holiday-Coney Island c, 1960 source

Baseball Park 1974 source

Daily News Strike 1993 source

Happy and Bud's Service Station 1970 source

Ralph Fasanella (1914 - 1997) was an American primitive painter (though he claimed that it was impossible to be primitive in a post Industrial society) who didn't begin working as an artist until he was in his thirties.

According to Wikipedia, Fasanella was born in the Bronx on Labor Day, 1914 which is perfectly in tune with cosmic forces, considering that he was a lifelong champion of working people like his father and mother before him. His father delivered ice in a horse-drawn wagon, his mother worked in a dress shop and was a keen anti-Fascist.

Fasanella volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War and was an union organizer upon his return home. He began painting when a fellow union worker gave him the idea that it might help his arthritic fingers.

During the McCarthy era, Ralph Fasanella's left-wing opinionated work was blacklisted by most Art Galleries and institutions and it wasn't until 1972 that his work was re-discovered. A cover on New York magazine brought him to national attention.

I love Fasanella' exquisitely detailed work, his vision of the dignity of the working classes, the injustices perpetrated on it, and his hope for a better future.

"I didn't paint my paintings to hang in some rich guy's living room."

To learn much more about Ralph Fasanella and his incredible work, please use this link


  1. I love Ralph Fasanella's America...his paintings remind me of the sense of community that once existed and that I grew up with as a 20th-century American kid...

  2. What I see here is a full palette given Fasanella's use of vibrant colours in all his paintings — contrasting but not clashing. For example, he has used blue and green convincingly in The Baseball Park painting, each has its place on the canvas.

  3. Another new artist, Yvette! ;-)

    I love these detailed pictures, so much to explore and discover!

    They remind me of the work of L.S.Lowry and the cartoons of W.HEathe Robinson

  4. ....William Heath Robinson (sorry for the typo - blame it on the medication, I have a severe cold!)

  5. Eve, I couldn't agree with you more. A sense of community. Exactly. I grew up as an early 20th century kid myself. I miss those days if only for that 'specific' sense of community we had. The feeling that we were all in this together.

    Those alive then and earlier remember what workers' lives were like before unions and the innovative idea that perhaps workers shouldn't be treated shabbily. A novel notion - then.

  6. Prashant: You've picked up on an element of Fansarella's work that speaks to his natural gift (he was basically self-taught). When you instinctively understand color - which it seems he did - then your palette shows it.

  7. Oh Sue, I hope you're feeling better quickly. No time to have a cold - maybe it's allergies? It IS spring after all.

    Yes, Fansarella's attention to detail is truly amazing. You could probably go back and forth with any of his paintings and find something different each time.

    You can also feel the love he had for the working man's life fairly vibrating off the canvas.

  8. Oops, I misspelled Ralph Fasanella's name, in a couple of my replies. Sorry about that. This is what happens when typing fingers and brain disconnect.

  9. I love Fasanella's works.

    My father, who was a union organizer for several years, and an official, too, knew him.

    In fact, as I type I look at a an original print by him entitled, "Lawrence 1912: The Bread and Roses Strike," sitting over my computer.

    Fasanella wrote an inscription to my father and I cherish that painting for that reason, as well as its representation of a very important strike 100 years ago by mostly women.

  10. That's my very favorite piece of all his work, Kathy. How fortunate you are to have it AND inscribed to your father too. A wonderful treasure.

  11. He is new to mee,Yvette! I enjoyed seeing some of his works, especially since thye have a NYC theme!

  12. Oh I think he is the definitive New York artist, Pat. A New York so different then than now.


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