THORNTON DIAL (1928-2016, USA)
Thornton Dial was born in 1928 to a poor family in rural Alabama. He was expected to work from an early age to support his unmarried mother. Having received minimal education, he worked tirelessly at many jobs until his retirement at the age of 55 in 1983. He admits that although he produced artwork before this time, it was only when he stopped work that he could focus all his attention on his passion. This was partly due to his early lack of confidence in his creative abilities. Dial said of his retirement, “I didn’t have no real hob, so I made a job of art”. Many of his pictures and sculptures are put together using old scraps, tin, found wood, wire and layers of waste paint. The unique feature of Dial’s art is perhaps the very variety of themes he makes use of. He takes inspiration from everything from animals and scenes of everyday life, right through to commentaries on the political and social situation in America today and the position of African Americans within it. Dial’s compositions range from simple and delicate drawings to dramatic and dark paintings which are typically large-scale powerful creations with a strong use of colour and fluid forms, often with additional pieces attached to the canvas.
1) Don’t Matter How Raggly The Flag, It Still Got To Tie Us Together, 2003, photo by Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio © Thornton Dial, Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art
2) Out of the Darkness, the Lord Gave Us Light, 2003, photo by Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio © Thornton Dial, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
3) Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle, 2003, photo by Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio © Thornton Dial
4) Lost Cows, 2000-2001, cow skeletons, steel, golf bag, golf ball, mirrors, enamel, and Splash Zone compound, photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio © Souls Grown Deep Foundation
5) Freedom Marchers, 1987, wire, steel, tape, wire screen, packing foam, concrete, enamel, and Splash Zone compound, photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio © Souls Grown Deep Foundation
6) The Bat Lady, 1995, Charcoal and colored chalk on paper © MoMA, New York