Ralph Fasanella

Morey Machine Shop

Oil on Canvas, 1953

Fasanella worked at the Morey Machine Shop in Long Island City in the early 1950s, and made it the subject of one of his most important paintings from the period. In Morey Machine Shop Fasanella shows the ideal of a humane and productive work environment: the goal of a stable union shop. His elevated perspective allows him to show the entire shop floor, which he portrays as orderly and rational, as seen in the balance between the workers and the neatly organized rows of machinery.

Fasanella enlivens the scene through an unusual pastel palette of light blues and pinks, and he delights in the geometric abstraction of the shop building. The interplay of the crossbeams and trusses on the ceiling creates one of his liveliest passages, and also serves to enhance the perception of deeply receding space. The walls and windows of the factory offer further opportunities for experimentation with pure form, and Fasanella exploits the multitude of squares and cross members to complete an interior space that accommodates the joy of abstraction within the style of realism.