American Folk Art Museum Logo

Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget

September 2–December 1, 2014
Exhibition

Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997) celebrated the common man and tackled complex issues of postwar America in colorful, socially minded paintings. This exhibition celebrates the one hundredth anniversary of the artist’s birth and brings together key works from a career spanning fifty-two years. Fasanella was born in the Bronx and grew up in working-class neighborhoods of New York; he became a tireless advocate for laborers’ rights, first as a union organizer and later as a painter.

This major exhibition includes a selection of artworks from the American Folk Art Museum’s collection, which holds more than one hundred paintings and drawings by the artist. The Estate of Ralph Fasanella gifted many of these objects to the museum over the years, in addition to the artist’s notebooks, sketches, correspondence, personal records, photographs, publications, and films, which were donated in 2009 and 2013.

Visit the page about the Ralph Fasanella Collection and Archive at the American Folk Art Museum.

Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Tania and Tom Evans, Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. American Folk Art Fund, and Paula and Peter Lunder. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.

Artworks

New York City
Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997)
New York City
1957
Oil on canvas
50 x 110″
Collection of Nicholas and Shelley Schorsch
Image courtesy the Estate of Ralph Fasanella

Watergate
Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997)
New York City
1976
Oil on canvas
60 x 90″
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Eva Fasanella and her children, Gina Mostrando and Marc Fasanella, 2005.5.5
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Ralph Fasanella
Photograph by Charmian Reading
c. 1970
American Folk Art Museum

American Heritage
Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997)
New York City
1974
Oil on canvas
50 x 80″
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Eva Fasanella and her children, Gina Mostrando and Marc Fasanella, 2005.5.1
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Modern Times
Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997)
1966
Oil on canvas
49 3/4 x 104″
Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Maurice and Margo Cohen, Birmingham, MI, 2002.10

Iceman Crucified #4
Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997)
1958
Oil on canvas
36 x 25″
Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the estate of Ralph Fasanella, 2013.69

Credits

The presentation at the American Folk Art Museum is supported in part by Joyce Berger Cowin, the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Estate of Ralph Fasanella, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Installation
Reviews
" . . . one of the best things you'll see this fall."
– Roberta Smith, New York Times