Self-Taught Artist Thornton Dial
Setting the Table, 2003
This is Dial's rethinking of a 19th century painting by William Merritt Chase, Still Life with Watermelon. Whereas Chase deployed an almost photographic realism, Dial goes for a gleeful Expressionist reimagining of the arranged foods, with a grape cluster made from a beaded car seat and a real frying pan holding painted eggs. Look closely and you can make out Dial himself in the upper right-hand corner, slanting leftward while he runs across the canvas banging a pan, a rural Southern tradition for calling everyone to the table.