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Rocco Fodale’s father’s name was Michele Fodale. What is known of Rocco’s mother is that her maiden surname was Angelari. The family lived in the town of Trapani, Italy.
When Rocco was just an infant, his mother contracted TB. Since there was little treatment for tuberculosis back then, and because it was highly contagious, she was placed under strict quarantine.
Rocco’s aunt Maria (Rocco’s father’s sister) moved in to the home to take care of the young Rocco. Rocco’s mother, under constant quarantine, in a separate dwelling, was very sad that she could not be with her child. Maria would often hold the child up from the door so that his mother could see him. When Rocco’s mother died, Maria became his permanent caregiver.
Rocco’s father also passed away when Rocco was still a boy. Rocco’s uncle Carmelo (Rocco’s father’s brother) took him under his wing and mentored him. As he grew, young Rocco developed the love of art and desperately wanted to study the arts. Young Rocco’s uncle Carmelo had no children of his own, so he saw to Rocco’s education and paid expenses even though young Rocco continued to live apart with his aunt Maria.
Carmelo owned a bed manufacturing factory and though he was opposed to Rocco’s study of art, he gave Rocco a job in his factory painting Cherubs on beds. Beds in early Fodale families were adorned with Rocco’s cherubs.
The Instituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche sent the following (translated) information to the Fodale family concerning Rocco: Born in Trapani (Sicily) on February 10, 1903, Rocco lived in Milano, and began painting at the age of 14. At the completion of his 18th birthday, he enrolled (in painting) at the Academy of Belle Arts of Palermo. After two years of study, he was forced to discontinue his art studies temporarily because he was needed in the family business. Shortly after, the young man left home to continue his artistic instinct and to actually dedicate to painting. Then, after another two years of studies at the Palermo Academy, he continued on his own.
He dedicated himself to all types of painting, portraits, kinds of figures, still life, scenery, and composition. His permanent collective exhibitions occurred in The Artistic Family, Milano, as well as in Palazzo, Reale, Monza, and the Exhibit of National Caricature of the Sicilian Artists. Personal exhibits include: Ranzini Gallery, Milano, January 1945; Cairola Gallery, Milano, December 1948; Gussori Gallery, Milano, March 1951; Gaviali Gallery, Milano, March 1952; Bolzani Gallery, Milano, May 1955; Vinciana Gallery, Milano, March 1958; and the Del Boguttino Gallery, Milano, December 1958; among others.
During his life as an artist, for a long periods he lived in Switzerland, Spain, and France. He studied the work of the Old Masters and the modern painters. He traveled extensively studying and had visited Pablo Picasso in Spain.
As he aged, Rocco became ill (from a weak heart). He returned to his native city (Trapani) with the hope that his health would improve in time. But deep down, he knew that his remaining time was nearing. Many mornings, he would walk slowly to the outdoors, with easel, paints and brushes. He would paint as swiftly as he could, feeling time was getting short, and that he had to finish his work. One evening, a few of his friends came to visit him. Rocco said “Perhaps the fresh air will help me to feel better” and with these words he bowed his head and he was gone. Rocco died in 1965. Most of Rocco’s remaining works and all his possessions at the time went to his mutual cousin Stefana Scudera Catalano.
Today, a plaque is hanging at the Trapani City Hall. In translation it reads: “To the artist, Rocco Fodale, master of techniques of the colors that radiate of warm Mediterranean light. The arts of our days has honored Trapani which has given the birth 1903-1965. The City of Trapani, June 9, 1968 in Perpetual Remembrance”.
Submitted by Michael Fodale (USAF Retired) Rocco Fodale’s 3rd cousin removed