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Bark of the Timber, Fog of the Night

Thornton Dial belongs to a small group of self-taught (or “outsider”) artists who have made a successful transition to the “mainstream” American art world. While his assemblages most closely recall African American southern folk art traditions that rely on found or recycled objects, they also have an affinity with modernist art, for example, with the collages of Kurt Schwitters. However, it is the content of Dial’s work—with its references to contemporary events as well as his experience of life in the segregated South—that is most compelling. In this work, the bark figures are literally bound to the work’s support with wire mesh, suggesting the confinement of slavery and poverty.

Thornton Dial
American, 1928–2016
Bark of the Timber, Fog of the Night
1995
Mixed media
42 x 43 x 9 in. (106.7 x 109.2 x 22.9 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds from the Cynthia L. and William E. Simon, Jr. Art Acquisition Fund, 2012.43

Large image not available.