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Fifth Avenue-53rd Street

Ralph Fasanella

Subway Riders, 1950/1995

Oil on canvas on mezzanine

Ralph Fassanella painted a subject with which he was deeply familiar. Talking about Subway Riders, the artist reflected: "I'd ride the subway every day... I'd ride and ride and sketch and sketch. I love the subway. It pulls the city together, pulls people together in a magic way. Here I show the subway riders at night after a hard day's work. Everyone is separate, alone, but very much together. It's noisy with the creaks and squeals, but peaceful too, because we move to a rhythm and cadence that gets inside us; that's comforting, like the noise of the city itself." Fasanella grew up in Greenwich Village, and worked as an iceman and union organizer, producing paintings in what would become known as urban folk style.

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