RALPH FASANELLA Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » ralph fasanella


Name: Ralph Fasanella                                                                         
Born: 2 September 1914                                                                       
Died: 16 December 1997                                                                       
Ralph Fasanella (September 2, 1914 - December 16, 1997) was a self-taught                     
painter whose large, detailed works depicted urban working life and critiqued                 
post-World War II America.                                                                   
Ralph Fasanella was born to Joseph and Ginevra (Spagnoletti), Italian immigrants,             
in the Bronx, New York, on Labor Day in 1914. He was the third of six children.               
His father delivered ice to local homes. His mother worked in a neighborhood                 
dress shop drilling holes into buttons, and spent her spare time as an anti-fascist           
Fasanella spent much of his youth delivering ice with his father from a horse-driven         
wagon. This experience deeply impressed him. He saw his father as representative             
of all working men, beaten down day after day and struggling for survival. "Fasanella         
later said that the compositional density of his pictures was influenced by the               
experience of helping his father deliver ice, which involved removing all the                 
food from customers' refrigerators and arranging it in neatly ordered stacks."               
Fasanella's mother was a literate, sensitive, progressive woman. She instilled               
in Fasanella a strong sense of social justice and political awareness. Fasanella             
began accompanying his mother when she worked on anti-fascist and trade union                 
causes. Fasanella also helped his mother publish and distribute a small Italian-language,     
anti-fascist newspaper to help support the family.                                           
Joseph Fasanella abandoned his family and returned to Italy in the 1920s. This               
increased the influence Fasanella's mother had over young Ralph, but it also led             
to some behavioral problems.                                                                 
Fasanella served two stints in reform schools run by the Catholic Church for                 
truancy and running away from home. He later said he was sexually abused ("used               
as a girl") by the priests. These experiences instilled a deep dislike for                   
authority and reinforced Fasanella's hatred for anything which broke people's                 
spirits. Fasanella later depicted his experience in reform school in a painting               
titled Lineup at the Protectory 2 (1961). The melancholy image features rows of               
boys standing at attention, watched over by scowling, ominous-looking priests.               
Fasanella quit school after the sixth grade.                                                 
During the Great Depression, Fasanella worked as a textile worker in garment                 
factories and as a truck driver. He became a member of United Electrical, Radio               
and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1227 while working as a machinist in               
Brooklyn. He became strongly aware of the growing economic and social injustice               
in the U.S., as well as the plight and powerlessness of the working class.                   
In late 1930s, Ralph Fasanella volunteered to fight in the Abraham Lincoln                   
Brigade, an American paramilitary force fighting to support the Second Spanish               
Republic against the successful fascist rebellion led by General Francisco