Ralph Fasanella: Images of Optimism
Hardcover Smyth-sewn casebound book, with jacket
128 pages with more than 70 full-color reproductions and photographs. Includes Chronology, Index of Artworks, and Afterword.
Size: 10 x 10 in.
Ralph Fasanella was an activist whose megaphone was his paintbrush. His images, filled with symbolism, chronicle 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 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. “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.
About the Authors
Marc Fasanella has been a professor of art, architecture, and design for thirty years. He has curated exhibitions featuring notable artists George Rickey, Moses Soyer, Robert Gwathmey, David Burliuk, James McMullan, Richard Mayhew, and Milton Glaser, as well as his father, about whom he has written and lectured extensively.
Leslie Umberger is an art historian who has specialized in folk, self-taught, and vernacular art since the late 1990s. She is the curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.