“Dial's life is inseparable from history because he made it his business as an artist to be a historian. Dial lived history, then he represented it.” - John Beardsley
Born in Emelle, Alabama in 1928, artistic giant Thornton Dial - who never learned to read or write - rose to the pinnacle of contemporary art history over a thirty year trajectory that began as he approached 60 years of age. He died in 2016 at the age of 87.
Dial's much-heralded retrospective, Hard Truths, launched from the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2011 and subsequently traveled to the New Orleans Museum of Art, Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, and the High Museum of Art Atlanta. The exhibition met with immense curatorial and critical acclaim and aroused a swell of high-profile media commentary, including Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, as well as features on CNN and Al Jazeera.
His recent and upcoming exhibitions at the esteemed Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, San Francisco’s De Young Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art underscore the acknowledgement of Dial as a cornerstone of a new view of Western art history. These shows position Dial's magisterial assemblages and delicately finessed works on paper as pillars of a new, more complete investigation of art and culture.
Having received the sanction of America’s premier curatorial, critical and collector communities, Thornton Dial is now ranked in the pantheon of artistic titans that include Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat.