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Mon, 09.10.1928

Thorton Dial, Folk Artist born

Thorton Dial 1993

On this date in 1928, Thorton Dial, Sr., was born. He was a Black painter and sculptor.

He was born in Livingston, AL, where he is a self-taught artist known best for his images of tigers challenging the world around them. As a Folk Artist, Dial never desired a lot of attention.  He worked for 30 years as a steelworker, and for much of that time, he released his creative energies by producing painted objects, which were displayed or buried in his backyard.

Dial began easel painting in 1987 with the encouragement of a white art collector.  The material used in these works range from carpeting, rope, metal, plywood, bottles, and other things drawn from his immediate surroundings.

Dial's themes came from his experiences living through segregation, migrating North, and in the civil rights movement. Dial differs from most folk artists because his themes reach well beyond his personal experiences. He has tackled the middle passage, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the Los Angeles riot of 1992. Images of men are noticeably in his work too.

Some of Dial’s pieces are The Tiger Cat, African Ladies Dancing, Life Goes On, Remembering the Road, and Struggling Tiger Proud Stepping.

The art world's recognition of Thorton Dial clearly is due to his ability to draw the viewer into his compelling artistic tales by integrating striking but familiar images with courageous color schemes and an intense sense of perception.

Thorton Dial died on January 25, 2016. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta had a memorial exhibition, on view from February 13 to May 1, 2016, that presented a selection of Dial's exuberant drawings and symbolically rich paintings that the Museum has collected over the past twenty years.

To be an Artist


Souls Grown

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
P.O. Box 6826
Houston, Texas

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