Ralph Fasanella

Marcantonio Campaign—Lucky Corner, 1972

Oil on Canvas, Collection of R. Marc Fasanella

Vito Marcantonio, the “People’s Congress-man” who represented the diverse community of East Harlem during the 1940s and 1950s, was one of Fasanella’s heroes whom he considered a compassionate and incorruptible fighter for progressive values. In 1949, when “Marc” ran for mayor of New York City, Fasanella ran on the same American Labor Party ticket for the New York City Council. In this 1972 painting, Fasanella relives that 1949 campaign as he shows Marcantonio making his Election Night speech at his “lucky corner”—Lexington Avenue and East 116th Street—which Marcantonio inherited from his mentor, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The vignette of the speaker’s platform and the large and attentive throng of supporters capture the intensity of the campaign’s climax.

In contrast to the mood of the crowd and speakers at Lucky Corner, the painting opens up to show a wide swath of New York City—both tenements and high rises-going about its daily business. “I wanted to show that the city goes on anyway,” Fasanella recalled, thus making the city itself the subject of the painting. As in many of his works, even the most important and dynamic individuals are dwarfed-and defined—by the rhythm and scale of the urban environment.

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