Thornton Dial

American, 1928–2016

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Thornton Dial

American, 1928–2016

732
Followers
Biography

An extraordinarily prolific maker of complex assemblage sculptures, Thornton Dial was plucked from relative obscurity in the 1980s by Bill Arnett, an Atlanta-based collector of art made by untrained black Southerners—an event that has become the stuff of legend. Dial spent most of his life working as a machinist in a railcar factory, making large-scale sculptures on the side with organic and industrial scrap materials; so many, in fact, that his wife used to make him bury old works that took up too much space. His epic works delve into racially charged narratives and natural disasters in American history, as well as the media's representation of these events. With a raw, gestural aesthetic, and containing both abstract patterns and figurative forms, Dial's work is considered comparable to that of iconic artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Rauschenberg.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 1 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Manifesta, and 1 more
Biography

An extraordinarily prolific maker of complex assemblage sculptures, Thornton Dial was plucked from relative obscurity in the 1980s by Bill Arnett, an Atlanta-based collector of art made by untrained black Southerners—an event that has become the stuff of legend. Dial spent most of his life working as a machinist in a railcar factory, making large-scale sculptures on the side with organic and industrial scrap materials; so many, in fact, that his wife used to make him bury old works that took up too much space. His epic works delve into racially charged narratives and natural disasters in American history, as well as the media's representation of these events. With a raw, gestural aesthetic, and containing both abstract patterns and figurative forms, Dial's work is considered comparable to that of iconic artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 1 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Manifesta, and 1 more
Shows Featuring Thornton Dial
Articles Featuring Thornton Dial
The Artists We Lost in 2016
Dec 21st, 2016
15 Blockbuster Gallery Shows You Need to See in New York This May
Apr 29th, 2016
Dead at 87, Thornton Dial Was Not Just a Giant of Outsider Art but a Towering Figure of Art History
Jan 28th, 2016
A Santa Fe Exhibition Brings Together Rare Early Works by Thornton Dial and Sculpture by Lonnie Holley
Sep 4th, 2014
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