cover image Thornton Dial: Image of the Tiger

Thornton Dial: Image of the Tiger

Amiri Baraka, Thornton Dial. ABRAMS, $45 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-3217-3

This monograph, published in conjunction with an exhibition at several museums, is devoted to the assemblages of Dial, an African American ironworker from Alabama who until recently produced his powerful abstractions in obscurity. The color reproductions of Dial's vibrant constructions are superb, but the accompanying essays obscure rather than illuminate the art. Art critic McEvilley uses the jargon of contemporary art criticism to discuss the self-taught artist's place in the art world. Baraka's convoluted diatribe rants about the fate of black artists in a white supremacist society. Extended captions by collectors Paul and William Arnett are based on Dial's own statements and help to explain his imagery, especialy his use of the tiger as a symbol of the black person's struggle in an alien environment. Dial's exuberant works, created from paint and found materials, and their direct titles (``Struggling Tiger in Hard Times,'' ``Struggling Tiger Know sic His Way Out'') speak eloquently for themselves. (Dec.)