Looking for the Right Spot

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Andrew Edlin Gallery, Beverly Buchanan, Thornton Dial, and the Gee's Bend Quiltmakers, June 27 - August 17, 2018

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1928, Emelle, AL
    Died 2016, McCalla, AL

    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; American Folk Art Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    Selected public collections: Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

    The “discovery” of Thornton Dial’s work in the 1980s has often been retold. Growing up in rural Alabama and beginning full-time farm work at age five, Dial spent most of his life working in heavy industry-building highways, houses and railcars. Widely considered as of the most revered self-taught artists of the past century, Dial was an extraordinarily prolific maker of assemblage sculptures from childhood on. Using industrial and organic scrap materials, he built what he considered as “things”. It was only late in life, when Atlanta collector William Arnett brought his work to prominence, that he learned that others viewed this as art. With a raw, gestural aesthetic, and containing both abstract patterns and figurative forms, Dial's work demonstrates the ambition and intellectual reach reminiscent of many modern and contemporary masters.

    "Dial's life is inseparable from history because he had made it his business as an artist to be a historian,” John Beardsley has written “Dial lived history, then he represented it in paintings and sculptures". Using the overlooked and under-considered material artifacts of everyday American life, Dial addresses American sociopolitical exigencies such as war, racism, bigotry and homelessness. Though initially heralded within the framework of “outsider art”, in recent years Dial’s far-reaching legacy has been acknowledged. In a 2011 Time Magazine profile, art and architecture critic Richard Lacayo argued that Dial's work should not be pigeon-holed into the narrowly-defined categories: “Dial's work has sometimes been described as ‘outsider art’... But if there's one lesson to take away from "Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial," a triumphant new retrospective at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, it's that Dial, 82, doesn't belong within even the broad confines of that category....What he does can be discussed as art, just art, no surplus notions of outsiderness required....And not just that, but some of the most assured, delightful and powerful art around.”


Looking for the Right Spot

metal, clothing, oil, enamel, and Splash Zone compound on canvas
72 x 84 in. (182.9 x 213.4 cm.)
Executed in 2004.

Estimate on Request



New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019