artists

Ralph Fasanella

American, 20th century.
Born 1914, New York City; died 1997, New York City.

Born and raised in the Bronx until his family moved to an apartment on Sullivan Street near Washington Square Park when he was five years old, Fasanella grew up in an Italian-American working-class family. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1910, his father finding work as a longshoreman and an ice delivery truck driver, his mother raising six children and working as a sewing machine operator in Lower Manhattan's garment industry. Needless to say, the working-class milieu in which Fasanella lived and worked played a significant role in shaping the form and content of his art.

Although he painted for more than fifty years, Ralph Fasanella didn't pick up a brush until the mid-1940s, when he was thirty-one years old. He came to art by way of personal and political convictions, and as postwar American cultural and political preferences swayed from progressive-conservative to conservative-liberal preferences, he sometimes found himself in favor, sometimes out of step. Yet he persevered, leaving an impressive body of several hundred canvases, many sketches, and broad respect and admiration from multiple spheres, including art and labor.

At the beginning of his career and then again toward the end, Fasanella's celebratory images of the American working class, reformist politics, and a more egalitarian and just society were deemed out of sync and even dangerous. Today, as demonstrated by the surge of protest by groups like Occupy, and growing recognition of the abiding facts of American economic disparity, Ralph Fasanella's paintings are more revelatory, and relevant, as ever.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2014
Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY

Ralph Fasanella: The Art of the Social Engagement, AFL-CIO Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Everyday Heroes: Ralph Fasanella's Paintings of American Life, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY

2013
Ralph Fasanella: A More Perfect Union, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY

Fasanella's Lawrence, Lawrence Heritage State Park Gallery, Lawrence, MA

2008
Ralph Fasanella: Passionate Visionary of New York, Art League of Long Island, Dix Hills, NY

2007
Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997): Artist of the People, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

2002
Ralph Fasanella’s America, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY; The New York Historical Society, New York, NY; The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art, Orlando, FL

2001
Ralph Fasanella’s America, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY

Ralph Fasanella’s American Panorama: A Memorial Exhibition, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

2000
Fun City: Celebrating the Life of Ralph Fasanella, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

Working People: The Art of Ralph Fasanella, Bread and Roses Cultural Project, New York, NY

Ralph Fasanella, The Main Street Gallery, Dobbs Ferry, NY

1999
Urban Utopia: The Folk Art of Ralph Fasanella, Avram Gallery, Southampton College, Long Island University, South Hampton, NY

1996
Double Play: Baseball Paintings by Ralph Fasanella and John Dobbs, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

1993
"This Guy's Painting Our Lives": Ralph Fasanella Worker Activist/Worker Artist, Natural History Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

1990
Russell Rotunda, Russell Building, Washington, D.C.

1989
Jewett Hall Gallery, University of Maine, Augusta, ME

Paintings and Drawings from the Mill Series, Middlesex Community College, Lowell, MA; O'Leary Library Gallery, University of Lowell, Lowell, MA; Governor's State Room, Rhode Island State House, Providence, RI

1988
Paintings and Drawings from the Mill Series, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA; Lawrence Visitor Center, Lawrence Heritage State Park, Lawrence, MA

1987
Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA

Blue Hill Cultural Center, Pearl River, NY

1986
Urban Visions: The Paintings of Ralph Fasanella,Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL

1985
Hostos Art Gallery, Hostos Community College, Bronx, NY

Urban Visions: The Paintings of Ralph Fasanella, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; New York State Museum, Albany, NY; New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA; Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

1984
Galerie Felicie, New York, NY

Fenimore House Museum, Cooperstown, NY

1983
Fenimore House Museum, Cooperstown, NY

1981
Jay Johnson's America's Folk Heritage Gallery, New York, NY

Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY

1980
Gallery 1199, New York, NY

1979
Nardin Gallery, New York, NY

Posner Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Columbia Gallery, Chicago, IL

1977
Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA

1976
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

1974
Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, NY

1973
Ralph Fasanella -Primitive Painter, Shaw-Rimmington Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Xerox Gallery, Rochester, NY

1972
Automation House, New York, NY

1966
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

1957
Ralph Fasanella Paintings, James Gallery, New York, NY

1954
Ralph Fasanella, The Teachers Center, New York, NY

1948
ACA Galleries, New York, NY

1947
Painting by Ralph Fasanella, ACA Gallery, New York, NY

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2016
World Made By Hand, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY

2011
Grandma Moses and the ‘Primitive’ Tradition, Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT

1994
Special Selections, Hill Gallery, Birmingham, MI

1988
City Folk – Ethnic Traditions in the Metropolitan Area, Paine Webber Art Gallery, New York, NY (presented by the Museum of American Folk Art)

1987
Diamonds Are Forever - Artists and Writers on Baseball, New York State Museum, Albany, NY/ Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Washington, D.C.; followed by a national tour through
1992

The Grand Game of Baseball, Museum of the Borough of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY

Play Ball: The Art of Baseball, The Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY

1986
Tides of Immigration, Museum of the Borough of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY

1984
Beyond Tradition: Contemporary American Folk Art, The Katonah Gallery, Katonah, NY;
followed by a national tour through 1988

American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

1983
Rizolli Gallery, New York, NY

Staatliche Kunsthalle, West Berlin, Germany

1982
American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY (also exhibited 1983)

1981
Champions of American Sport, The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; followed by a national tour through 1984

Images of Labor, Gallery 1199, New York, NY

1977
Acquisitions: 1974–1977, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

1958
National Academy of Design, New York, NY

1947
Social Art Today, ACA Galleries, New York, NY

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

2013
Ralph Fasanella: A More Perfect Union. New York: Andrew Edlin Gallery.

2001
D’Ambrosio, Paul S. Ralph Fasanella’s America. Cooperstown: Fenimore Art Museum.
Elias, Robert, ed. Baseball and the American Dream: Race, Class, Gender and the National Passtime. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe.
Fleming, Maria, ed. A Place at the Table: Struggles for Equality in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Zandy, Janet, ed. What We Hold in Common: An Introduction to Working-Class Studies. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York.

2000
Green, James R. Taking History to Heart: The Power of the Past in Building Social Movements. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

1993
Images: Pictorial History of Italian-Americans. New York: Center for Migration Studies of New York.

1988
Okun, Rob A., ed. The Rosenbergs - Collected Visions of Artists and Writers. New York: Universe Books.
Wallock, Leonard. New York: Culture Capital of the World. New York: Rizzoli International Publishers.

1987
Gordon, Peter. Diamonds are Forever: Artists and Writers on Baseball. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Kurtz, Bruce D. Visual Imagination: Art Introduction to Art. Englewood Cliffs: Pretice-Hall.

1986
Giordano, Joseph, ed. The Italian-American Catalog. New York: Doubleday.

1985
Foner, Philip and Reinhard Schultz. The Other America. Newbury Port: Journeyman Press.

1984
Bihalji-Merin and Nabojsa-Bato Tomasevic. World Encyclopedia of Naive Art. New York: Scala Arts Publishers, Inc.

1983
Chwast, Seymour and Steven Heller. The Art of New York. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Foner, Philip and Reinhard Schultz. Das Andere Amerika. (German) Berlin: Elefanten Press.
Johnson, Jay and William Ketchum, Jr. American Folk Art of the 20th Century. New York: Rizzoli International Publishers.

1982
Rodman, Seldon. Artists in Tune with Their World. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Von Blum, Paul. The Critical Vision. New York: South End Press.

1981
Casewitz, Curtis W. Making a Living in the Fine Arts. New York: Collier Books.
Foner, Moe. Images of Labor. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press.
Pachter, Marc, Amy Henderson, Jeanette Hussey and Margaret Christman. Champions of American Sport. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Rosenak, Chuck and Jan Rosenak. Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of American Folk Art and Artists. New York: Abbeville Press.

1980
Berger, John. About Looking. New York: Pantheon Books.

1979
Bishop, Robert. Folk Painters of America. Boston: E.P. Dutton & Co.

1975
Horwitz, Elinor Lander. Contemporary American Folk Artists. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
Möllerström, Sten, ed. Glad Konst! Malmö. Sweden: Bra Böcker

1974
Hemphill Jr. Herbert W. and Julia Weissman. Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artists. Boston: E.P. Dutton & Co.

1973
Fasanella, Ralph and Patrick Watson. Fasanella's City. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

ARTICLES

2014
Rosenberg, Karen. "The Working Class Made Colorful: 'Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget' at the American Folk Art Museum," New York Times, August 30.
O'Sullivan, Michael, "Art Review: 'Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget'," Washington Post, June 5.
Grimes, William, "Commute for Subway Art is Three Years, Door to Door," New York Times, May 6.

2011
Cotter, Holland. “American History, Sliced to Order,” New York Times, July 31.

Fasanella, Marc. “The Utopian Vision of an Immigrant’s Son: the oil on Canvas Legacy of Ralph Fasanella, Italian Americana Art, Summer.

2008
Genocchio, Benjamin. “Bold, Colorful and Detailed,” New York Times, May 18.

2002

Saltz, Jerry. “Working Class Hero,” artnet, June 12.
Glueck, Grace. “Where Nitty Met Gritty On Jampacked Canvases,” New York Times, May 31.
Leduff, Charlie. “Neighborhood Report: City Lore; A Self-Taught Artist’s Blue-Collar City and What’s Left of It,” New York Times, March 24.

2000
Lombardi, D. Dominick. “Recalling the Life of Ralph Fasanella,” New York Times, August 13.

1999
Braff, Phyllis. “Works on Paper, With a Difference,” New York Times, February 20.

1997
Smith, Roberta. “Ralph Fasanella, 83, Primitive Painter, Dies,” New York Times, December 18.
Gonzalez, David. “Making Art That Imitates One Man’s Life,” New York Times, May 14.

1995
D’Ambrosio, Paul D. “Ralph Fasanella: The Making of a Worling-Class Artist.” Folk Art 20, no.2, Summer.

1993
Carroll, Peter. "Ralph Fasanella limns the story of the workingman," in Smithsonian, August, pp. 58-59.
"The Street of Dreams," The New Yorker, Cover, May 31.

1990
Howe, Marvin. "Son of Immigrants, a Self-Made Artist May Arrive, Symbolically, on Ellis I.," New York Times, May 27.

1989
Nacelewicz, Tess. "Mill scenes strike a chord," The Lewiston Daily Sun, Lewiston-Auburn, ME, May 25.

1988
Rothenberg, Alex. "Work pays off as Lawrence acquires strike art," The Boston Globe, May 2.

FILMOGRAPHY

1990
Unknown Secrets - Art in the Rosenberg Era, Green Mountain Post
Films, includes interview with Ralph Fasanella
Forever Baseball - The American Experience Series, PBS, includes
interview with Ralph Fasanella

1988
Ralph Fasanella - Italics Episode 4, Italian-American News Institute,
The City University of New York, Graduate Center

1987
CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, November Diamonds are Forever Exhibit, including two paintings by Fasanella - "Night Game – Yankee Stadium" and "Sandlot Game"

1986
CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, October 5, Ralph Fasanella in New Bedford, during exhibit at the Whaling Museum

1985
Urban Visions - Ralph Fasanella, Herbert F. Johnson, Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, June

1981
"Ralph Fasanella: Song of the City," Jack Ofield, Director, 25 min., color, 16mm

1979
The Dick Cavett Show, WNET/THIRTEEN, January 2

1977
Mike MacIntyre, BBC/TV

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
Administration Building, State of Rhode Island, Providence, RI
American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY
City Hall, Bedford, MA
Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York, NY
Harold Washington Public Library, Chicago, IL
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Labor Museum and Learning Center, Flint, MI
Lawrence Heritage State Park Visitors Center, Lawrence, MA
Lewiston/Auburn College, Lewiston, ME
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI
Museum of American Folk Art, New York, NY
New Bedford City Hall, New Bedford, MA
New York State Historical Association –Fenimore House Museum, Cooperstown, NY
Oakland International Airport, Oakland, CA
Oakland Public Library, Oakland, CA
O'Leary Library, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C.