Ralph Fasanella


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Painter. Self-taught, he specialized in large, detailed scenes of quintessential New York subjects: Coney Island to Yankee Stadium, subway throngs to street festivals. Some of his works treat politically charged subjects such as labor strikes, the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg spy case, and President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Born in the Bronx, Fasanella grew up in Greenwich Village. He fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade before becoming a union organizer in 1940. Blacklisted for his left-wing views during the McCarthy era, he was often unable to find work during the 1950s. Later he pumped gas at a station in the Bronx. He had started painting in the mid-1940s, but widespread recognition came only after the New York Times Magazine ran a feature in 1972. A scene from a late 1970s historical series on a mill town labor dispute, the 5 × 10-foot Lawrence, 1912—The Great Strike, hung in the Capitol Hill hearing room of a House labor and education subcommittee for some years. Indicative of Fasanella's ambitions for his art and donated by fifteen unions, it was returned early in 1995 to the AFL-CIO shortly after the Republican party took control of the House. Fasanella died in a Yonkers hospital, not far from his longtime home in suburban Ardsley.

Subjects: Art.

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