top of page

Fausto Sansone (1902 – 1995)

My Only Working Tool, 1949, oil on panel, signed and dated lower right, 16 x 12 inches, remnant of exhibition label verso, exhibited at the Art News Second Annual National Amateur Competition, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, December, 1950 (see The Best Amateurs, Art News, volume 49, issue 8, December 6 to 20, 1950, p. 65 – 66), presented in a period frame


Fausto Sansone was an accomplished untrained painter who lived in New York’s upper East Side. A native of Calabria, Italy, Sansone immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen. He had a 4th grade education and worked his entire life as a suit-cutter and tailor, together with his older brother Salvatore. Sansone was one of the nation’s most accomplished amateur painters, having the present work selected as one of only 150 artworks from nearly 1500 entries from around the country for the Art News' Second Annual National Amateur Competition at the National Academy of Design. The jury for this exhibition included some of America's most significant art leaders, including the artists, Josef Albers and Lorser Feitleson, and art critics, Margit Varga and Dorothy Adlow. About the competition, Albers remarked, "It was a very encouraging experience to see that many people  are doing such serious and consistent work, and using their leisure time to develop a sensitive articulation in painting their vision and ideas. I wish I could show my students such work because of its originality and honesty and particularly because of the absence of the pretentiousness of the self-appointed genius." Speaking about Sansone's My only Working Tool, the Art News wrote, "Many of the paintings make eloquent comment on the lives and occupations of the artists. A tailor signifies his trade and perhaps also his rebellion against it by the way he paints his cutting shears on the window-sill high above New York’s Fourteenth Street." Perhaps Sansone was reflecting on his own identity being subsumed by his lifetime craft as his "only working tool" becomes a Magic Realist-inspired self-portrait.


bottom of page