Thornton Dial

Mr. Dial Has Something to Say, 2007

from Celia Carey on Vimeo.

Thornton Dial was born on a cotton plantation and did steel work, never learning to read or write – and was a self-taught artist. Discovered by Lonnie Holley, he was later approached by Bill Arnett who bought Dial’s work into the white world of art. Controversy that tarnished the two men’s reputations provides insight into the life of black artists and ‘outsider’ art through the eyes of white art institutions. The positive return of the story becomes that the black artist is given legitimacy and been accepted, their art being taken in by the institutions that had initially devalued them.

 

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