Fasanella, who was self-taught, adopted a nonconventional mode of figuration for his fiercely political art, as in Meeting at the Commons: Lawrence 1912 (1977), from a cycle documenting the trailblazing Bread and Roses strike by Massachusetts textile workers. But if the picture has some characteristics of Art Brut, it is because he considered abstraction too sterile and social realism too literal to achieve his populist, near-cinematic storytelling ambitions. The show’s title, “Lest We Forget,” taken from a motto that appears in several paintings, urges us to remember the struggles of our forebears for justice in the workplace. It couldn’t be more relevant today as hostile courts and legislatures batter the foundations of collective bargaining.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 107.