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Modern Times

1966 Ralph Fasanella Born: New York, New York 1914 Died: Yonkers, New York 1997 oil on canvas 49 3/4 x 104 in. (126.4 x 264.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Maurice and Margo Cohen, Birmingham, MI © 1966, Estate of Ralph Fasanella 2002.10 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

By the mid-1960s, Fasanella was disheartened by the arrogance and self-centeredness that, to him, defined the counterculture movement. Modern Times proposes a futuristic urban scene in which an impersonal and technological society has displaced one of humanity and unity.

Fasanella completed this work following Pope Paul VI’s 1965 visit to Yankee Stadium. In it he contrasts humanistic subjects such as the papal visit, images of workers, protesters, strikers, and returning soldiers with the detached, intellectual side of society—the worlds of science, technology, and fine arts. Fasanella felt the elitist art world had pigeonholed him as “primitive and stupid.” He ardently believed that art didn’t have to be aloof or conceptual; it was a tool to be wielded like a hammer.


Cityscape - imaginary

Figure group


paint - oil

fabric - canvas