Thornton Dial - Assemblage Art "Thornton Dial (American, 1928–2016) was a self-taught artist from Emelle, AL, known for his large-scale assemblages that address issues of racism, war, and homelessness.
Thornton Dial was a pioneering African-American artist best known for his large-scale assemblage paintings. He melded complex themes like Civil Rights history, archaeology, and construction, through the use of materials like cow skeletons, American flags, and rebar. Often referred to as an “outsider artist,” Dial’s work is highly biographical. Born on September 10, 1928 in Emelle, AL, Dial's youth was filled with hardship, born into poverty on a sharecropping farm. Though he never received any formal art training, he made sculptures from found objects from a young age. Dial spent much of his life working construction for the Pullman Company, around Birmingham, AL. In 1981, he retired from welding and construction and devoted himself to his art. In the late 1980s he came to the attention of the influential, Atlanta-based collector Bill Arnett. Arnett went on to bring Dial’s work to national prominence. Since the 1990s, Dial's work has gained cultural acclaim and recognition, leading to inclusion in several important exhibitions, including the 2000 Whitney Biennial. The artist died on January 25, 2016 in McCalla, AL. Today, his work is among the collections of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York." Exposition Art Blog