Gallery 721 Home"


 Thornton Dial

 “I’m learning more about how white people think,” Thornton Dial is saying kindly.  All my life I went to the fields and I went to the plant, and white folks own everything in the United States and Negroes made everything in the United States, and they never owned too much.  Negroes have a harder time than anybody in the world, and they have less.” Thornton Dial is a kind man, a gentle man. He has lived most of his life in and around Bessemer, Ala.  For many years Dial was a steel worker with Pullman Standard Co. making railroad sleeping cars.  But in 1987, the year he turned 59, he began making Tour-De-Force paintings so feral in their wrath, so exuberant in their invention, so monumental, playful, profound and technically proficient, that they were the subject of two concurrent exhibitions in New York.   “Thornton Dial: Image of the Tiger”, The Museum of American Folk Art, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art. The strength of Dials Art lies in its singularity, the purity of its voice from the other side rage and mourning. “If everything Dial was saying was fully known, he couldn`t get no show!” writes Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones).  His art is an expierience and learning you that cannot be taught in any other way.  The high, low folk, outsider labels get to be beside the point. 

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Peter Max

The art of Peter Max is part of the fabric of American culture
and continues to gain momentum.  From the visionary pop art of the exploding 60`s, in all its kalidescope varieties, to the master of dynamic Neo Expressionism, Max`s images infiltrate the American scene, while revolutionizing the world of art. Born in Belin and raised in Shanghai, Tibet, Israel and France, Max`s pan-cultural background is what makes his work rich in artistic diversity.  At the early age of 24 he maintained his own studio and won a cache of awards from New York`s Madison Avenue.  In the mid-60s when the Beatles invaded America and the counter culture was exploding, Max developed a bold, linear style of painting, which he employed shocking color juxtapositions and depicted transendental themes. Termed by critics as a “Cosmic Surrealist”.  Max is genius at mastering and adapting his cosmic art from painting to popular items.  The diversity of his skill has been portrayed in fashion, posters, record albums and even animation.  This ingenuity earned him unpresidented popularity and created the aesthetics of the sixties generation. Throughout the 1980s Max`s art had grown richer, a force of depth combined with color, morepainterly and far more complex.  His art became admired for both personal and public iconagraphy.  As seen in motifs such as Dega Man, Monks and Sages, Zero Magalopolis, the profiles and other works.  His bold recreations of popular icons such as the Liberty paintings, JFK-4, 40 Gorbys, Dove of Peace and others, place him in the forefront of his medium bridging the gap of several generations.  Max keeps stirring the hearts of millions as his canvas journeys continue to gain artistic momentum.

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 Howard Finster

 Howard Finster`s idiosyncratic genius is one of the finest examples of the continued richness of contemporary American Folk Art.  His work hangs in the National Museum of American Art and has been shown at the Los Angeles County Museum as part of the museum’s “Parallel Visions: Modern & Outsider Art” exhibit, which travelled to Spain, Swtzerland, and Japan.  He has been interviewed by an amazed Johnny Carson, has designed rock music album covers, and has been the subject of an eye-popping retrospective at New York`s Painewebber Art Gallery.  His clients include Absolute Vodka and MTV , and he has been the subject of articles in People Magazine The Wall Street Journal and dozens of other publications.  His work has been shown from Soho to Australia, from Los Angeles to Venice Biennale.  Howard Finster is not only a painter, but also a sculptor, poet, gardener, musician, and an inventor. Howard Finster, a former Baptist Preacher and bicycle repairman who never went beyond the 6th grade had experienced visions since the age of 3.  When he turned 60, he recieved a divine command to paint “Sacred Art.”  A self taught artist, whose colorful paintings tend to embrace evangelical themes, many of them apocalyptic, are filled with illustrations of bible verses along with portraits of American heros and pop subjects reflecting American culture.  They are interspersed with all kinds of evangelical messages, printed quotations and original, often witty sayings, or “Finsterisms”, as they have come to be known.  Within a few years, Finster`s work was discovered by big city galleries and collectors, for whom Finster`s backwoods theology had an ironic charm, the artist himself probably did not intend.  A mix of Andy Warhol and Grandma Moses, his pulpits are now the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and major museums around the world.  A backwoods preacher inspired by the WORD of GOD, visitations from the dead, and visions of extraterrestrial life, Howard Finster is indeed, an unliklely candidate for status as an art celebrity.  No matter what your religious beliefs, the compelling power of Finster`s work is undeniable.  Its child-like exuberance and down-home flavor bring instant smiles to the viewer.

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Purvis Young

Purvis Young is the most exciting and important self-taught artist to have emerged in the 1980`s.  Young, actually had some art instruction while in Raiford prison in the 1960`s and his earliest works reflect a style that predates the raw energy and direct assertivness of his mature work. The label “self-taught” best describes his method of working. He rejected the training he recieved and opted instead to operate from gut instinct, using materials found in the streets of Overtown, Miami`s inner city. The resulting work constitutes some of the most honest and powerful art of the last decade. Meeting scurvily Young, one cannot help but be impressed by his deep heat felt concern for his community and aquaintances.  The abundance of pregnant women populating the street, the infusion of boat people, the trucks passing up above on the elevated interstate, funerals, basketball games and crying faces populate his surroundings.  His materials tend to be the detritus or trash found in the streets, old books, ledgers, discarded paper, cardboard, wood, smashed doors and mirrors, to mention a few of Young`s “supports”.  Not only are his images about the neighborhood, but the materials come from it as well. This “tired” and worn material has been the emotional energy that reinforces the themes of his work.  His painterly style coupled with robust, sweeping marking lends an aura of tumult, drive preoccupation and feeling.  Young`s artistic geinus is, in part, non-specific nature of his scenes; simplified to essentials, he presents universal situations.  His figures are virtually abstract, reduced to long Franz Kline-like brushstrokes topped with a dot, suggesting body and head. The meaning resides in the power of the marks, and not in any details. Even Young`s homemade “frames” function less as utilitarian frame than as a material with a real past that meta lends energy, humanity and life to the painted image.   Young`s work looks like nobody else`s and the same can be said of the other great self-taught artists of the 20th century, such as Bill Taylor, David Butler, William Edmundson, Horace Pippen. and William Hawkins.  His style is unique because his vision, like their’s is unique.  Despite, rudimentary art training, he ultimately worked from his emotions and produced an aesthetic system that implemented these powerful feelings, in effect, jettisoning everything he had learned.  The resulting art speaks with such as directness and power, that Young`s appeal transcends the world of Folk Art, entering the contemporary art scene at its highest levels.

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