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26 Jan 2016

In Remembrance of Thornton Dial Sr.

The American Folk Art Museum is especially saddened by the passing of Thornton Dial Sr. on January 25, 2016. We offer our condolences to his family for their loss and here honor the memory of this prolific and talented artist. One of the most important visual artists of the twentieth century, Dial will be remembered for his significant contribution to the field of American art. His oeuvre, spanning from the 1980s to the present, includes drawings, large-scale paintings, stand-alone sculptures, and assemblages made from found objects energetically articulated on the surface. Dial was born on a rural Alabama plantation in 1928 and worked as a machinist for a railroad car manufacturer for much of his life. A celebrated self-taught artist, he invented a personal artistic vocabulary and created a powerful, expressive, and profound body of work that directly addressed some of the most pressing issues of his time. Dial’s work has been exhibited in major art museums and other venues since the 1990s and has been studied by many renowned scholars. Largely affiliated with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which published many of his books, Dial wrote an autobiography titled “Mr. Dial Is A Man Looking For Something,” which can be read on the foundation website.

This outstanding work of art is currently on tour in the traveling exhibition Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum, which opens February 26 at the New Orleans Museum of Art.


Image: Thornton Dial Sr. (1928–2016), Birds Got to Have Somewhere to Roost, Alabama, 2012, wood, carpet scraps, corrugated tin, burlap, nails, and enamel on wood, 61 1/4 x 48 x 10 in., American Folk Art Museum, gift of the Thornton Dial Family, 2013.6.1. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio.