The Working Christs of Ralph Fasanella

Apr 08, 2022 177


“Poor Christ,” Italian immigrant. The Italian saying refers to people who are unlucky and disgraced: Poor Christ… but in Italian American literature and art it has become a widespread metaphor, at least thanks to the foundational novel Christ in Concrete by Pietro di Donato, released in the United States in 1939 and translated as Cristo tra i muratori in 1957 (Mondadori). We will deal with this novel elsewhere.

Here we focus on the paintings by Ralph Fasanella many of which use the image of the “poor Christ” by translating it into his own naïf or primitive iconography. Naïf does not mean trivial. In Fasanella’s case it refers to the strong immediacy of his style and to his being a self-taught artist. His paintings are open windows onto the Italian American life in the big city, New York, in the heart of the twentieth century, and are full of telling details for those who are able to read them.

Read more


You may be interested