We know virtually nothing about this artist, A. FIORILLO. Urban legend has it that the artist, who was obviously engaged in art making as a form of social activism, lived in Manhattan in the 1960's through the early 1980's.
As a practitioner of "bas-relief" which depicted acts of social injustice towards marginalized segments of the population by the government, A. (don't know his first name) Fiorillo apparently tried to sell his works on the streets of New York. Without any success, he decided to abandon his works at the headquarters of the Communist Party of America, whom also didn't know what to do with them. Eventually, the fragile painted plaster works were taken to the local Goodwill where the entire body of work languished for what could be several years in the dark, collecting dust and grime, until an antiques dealer spotted them and took them to his shop in the flowers district of Manhattan, where they again languished.
A notable dealer in ephemera, the late Elli Buk, acquired them at some point, andbrought them to his loft on Prince Street. Elle was an eccentric who collected odd ball items such as elevator motors, film projectors, taxidermy, telegraph machines, microscopes, patten models and salesman samples, architectural drawings, blueprints, and much more.. The writer William Gibson once said, “Gazing into Elli Buk’s window, for me, has been like gazing into the back reaches of some cave, where Manhattan stores its dreams.”.
Somehow, while the artist remaining virtually anonymous save for a first initial and a last name, the entire body of work, cumbersome and easily prone to damage, after passing though three sets of hand found it's way into one of the most eccentric collection of International Art and Design.
Elli Buk passed away unexpectedly in 2013, and his entire estate went to auction later that year. The entire body of work of A. Fiorello was included and was acquired by an individual whose interest was to perpetuate it in the public realm. Since then, while we have come no closer to identifying who A.Fiorello might be, if he is living or dead, the works themselves have been included in exhibitions at The Metro Show in New York, The Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn and Commercial Galleries in New York as well.
What isn't clear is whether or not A.Fiorello studied art at all. Sometimes the work looks completely feral and self taught, while at other times the work look completely accomplished to the extent that one would have to assume the artist was a student of anatomy, composition and was taught the techniques of plaster casting.
Writer and activist Chris Hedges said when asked if "literature, art, music; will it take those things to waken us to the empathy of other suffering or hardship?" that "the role of art is transcendence. It’s about dealing with what we call the non-rational forces in human life, those forces that are absolutely essential to being whole as a human being but are not quantifiable." "Because you’re dealing with a transcendence or a reality that is beyond articulation. And for those of us who seek to rise up against this monstrous evil, culture is going to be as important as the more prosaic elements of resistance such as a food tent, or a medical tent or a communications tent." ... and finally "And the great religious writers, the great philosophers, the great artists, the great novelists, the great musicians, dancers, that’s what they struggle to honor and to sustain. And we, who are in essence when we really talk about it, engaged in a spiritual battle against forces of death, corporate forces are forces of death. We are fighting for life and we are going to need those transcendent disciplines that remind us of who we are, why we’re struggling, and what life finally is about."
This is the generosity of spirit embodied in the works of A. Fiorillo ..