One Man Had A Plan For His Art, And It Wasn't To Hang In Some Millionaire's Sitting Room

Ralph Fasanella was born on Labor Day 1914. He was the son of an Italian immigrant, and one of his first jobs was slinging ice back in the days when "icebox" meant refrigerator ... with a block of ice. He went on to work in a factory and as a truck driver, and then became a union organizer.That was before he became a fascinating painter. He often used large canvasses because he envisioned his work hanging in union halls rather than “in some rich guy’s living room.” Some of his paintings were about common working people. Others were about strikes, civil unrest, JFK's assassination, and other relics of the times.His works are on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and a parallel exhibit is in the lobby of the AFL-CIO building. More on that below the images.


"Family Supper," 1972, oil on canvas, National Park Service. © 1972, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

"New York City," 1957, oil on canvas, collection of Nicholas and Shelley Schorsch, image courtesy Estate of Ralph Fasanella. © 1957, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

"Iceman Crucified #4," 1958, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Ralph Fasanella. © 1958, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

"The Great Strike: Lawrence 1912," 1978, oil on canvas, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Image courtesy Estate of Ralph Fasanella. © 1978, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

"American Tragedy," 1964, oil on canvas, collection of John and Susan Jerit, image courtesy Andrew Edlin Gallery. © 1964, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

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