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  • Thornton Dial

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Thornton Dial American Artist: b. 1928-2016. Thornton Dial was born in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama. Dial is a self-taught artist who came to prominence in the United States in the late 1980s. Dial’s body of work exhibits astonishing formal variety through powerfully expressive, densely composed assemblages of found materials, often executed on a monumental scale. His range of subjects embraces a broad sweep of history, from human rights to natural disasters and current events. Thornton Dial was born to Mattie Bell in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama. He lived with his mother until he was around three when Dial and his half-brother Arthur moved in with their second cousin, Buddy Jake Dial, who was a farmer. When Thornton moved in with Buddy Jake, he farmed and learned about the sculptures that Buddy Jake made from items lying around the yard, an experience that greatly influenced him. Dial grew up in poverty and without the presence of his father. In 1940, Dial moved to Bessemer, Alabama. When he arrived in Bessemer, he noticed the art along the way in people's yard and was amazed at the level of craft exhibited.He married Clara Mae Murrow in 1951. They have five children, one of which died of cerebral palsy. The late artist Ronald Lockett was his cousin. His principal place of employment was the Pullman Company in Bessemer, Alabama, until the company closed its doors in 1981. After the Pullman factory shut down, Dial began to dedicate himself to his art for his own pleasure. In 1987, he was introduced to Bill Arnett, a local art collector of great influence who brought Dial's work to public attention. Dial's work addresses urgent issues in the realm of history and politics in the United States, such as war, racism, bigotry and homelessness. He constructs large-scale assemblages using cast-away objects, anything from rope to bones to buckets. Some of his compositions are delicate drawings whilst others are dramatic and dark paintings which tend to be large-scale with strong use of color and fluid forms. Combining paint and found materials Dial weaves together an interpretation of history and politics in the United States. David C. Driskell, an artist and art historian of African American art, points to one of Dial's symbolic creatures, the tiger. The Tiger represents the struggle to survive through difficult events and eventually the tiger symbolizes the African American struggle to obtain equal rights in the United States. Listings wanted.

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