Ralph Fasanella, Iceman Crucified #4, 1958, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © 1958, Estate of Ralph Fasanella, Gift of the estate of Ralph Fasanella, 2013.69
The Iceman Crucified series encapsulates some of Fasanella’s most powerful and poignant artistic themes. His father—Joe the Iceman—is cast as the crucified Christ to explore ideas of suffering and sacrifice, memory and personal growth. The series was a turning point for Fasanella; his artistic vision broke free from the confines of realism and his imagery became deeply personal.
As a child, Ralph worked alongside his father on his ice delivery route, putting in long hard days on tough streets. Iceman Crucified #4 was the final work in and pinnacle of the series. In it Fasanella encompasses old and new worlds and is simultaneously nostalgic and celebratory. The Christ figure is transformed into a heroic presence, serene and full of grace. The traditional INRI is replaced with the phrase that came to be equated with the artist himself: “Lest We Forget”—a clear message to viewers to remember who we are and where we come from.
Ralph Fasanella cast his father, “Joe the Iceman,” as the crucified Christ to explore ideas of suffering and sacrifice and to portray the working man as a persevering hero. Fasanella’s parents were Italian immigrants who instilled in their son the values of work and solidarity. He became an artist who ardently championed labor and the common folk. “Lest We Forget” was Fasanella’s impassioned plea to always honor the sacrifices of our forebears.
Iceman Crucified #4
- On View
36 x 25 in. (91.4 x 63.5 cm)
© 1958, Estate of Ralph Fasanella
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of the estate of Ralph Fasanella
- Mediums Description
- oil on canvas
- Ethnic – Italian
- Occupation – service
- Religion – New Testament – Crucifixion
- Figure male
- Figure group
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI