Christie’s annual New York outdoor and vernacular art auction on January 18 will include a notable selection of pieces from Jane Fonda’s personal collection: 14 artworks by the late American artist Thornton Dial, his brother Arthur Dial, and his son Thornton Dial. Son.
The actor and activist has acquired over the past two decades the business the actor and activist has acquired, and the works range from painted animal-shaped benches designed by Dial Jr. , each estimated to fetch $2,000 to $4,000, to Thornton Dial’s large-scale mixed media wall business, estimated to sell for $50,000 to $100,000.
An untitled work by Thornton Dial, made in 1993, is expected to fetch $50,000 to $100,000 at auction. credit: Courtesy Christie’s Auction House
Fonda collected work by self-taught black artists of the American South, including missionary Mary L. Proctor, Purvis Young, and Dial’s cousin Ronald Lockett.
She was introduced to the Dial family through the late collector Bill Arnett, whose home she visited in Atlanta in the 1990s. According to Christie, Fonda had previously collected paintings mostly by women, but was deeply influenced by the work she saw of artists such as Dial, Lonnie Holly, and Joe Minter.
The 14 works up for auction include several that have lived with Fonda over the years. Topping the sale are two early 1990s collections by Thornton Dial, the son of Alabama farmers who gained a reputation in his 60s for dynamic sculptures and wall pieces he constructed from found objects, paint, and other materials.
Animal Bench by Thornton Dial Jr. credit: Courtesy Christie’s Auction House
Other works by Dial include an oil on wood panel from about 1988 that depicts four trees and is four feet high by 10 feet wide, and can fetch up to $50,000; Large-scale painted, larger-than-life canvas and plywood portrait of Uncle Sam from 1989, expected to fetch $20,000 to $40,000, and several smaller works on paper depicting women estimated to fetch $3,000 to $5,000. . His brother Arthur, who has turned more to narrative photography, represents two mixed media works on the board, both from 1989.
“Eve and Adam” (1989) by Arthur Dayal. credit: Courtesy Christie’s Auction House
Fonda considers Dials to be part of the canon of Great American Art. “Found objects are an imitation of 20th-century art. It’s Marcel Duchamp, his conversion of urinals into what’s called a fountain, right down to my friends Bob Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns—it’s not unique to these artists from the South,” he said in a press release. “(Thornton) Dial used found objects in his environment, which I think are very beautiful. He gave discarded things a second life, masterfully reusing materials with an effect that very few artists have ever had before.”
In addition to collecting art, Fonda partnered with Tinwood Books in 2001, the Arnett Foundation to support black vernacular art that promoted the work of Gee’s Bend quilters in Alabama through exhibitions and writers. She also serves as a trustee of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to championing the work of black artists from the South.
Fonda had previously sold at least one work by Dial at auction, the 1999 hard-to-install collection “The Awards (Doll Factory)”. The work was delivered to Christie’s in 2019, and sold for more than its high estimate of £200,000 ($246,000), fetching £225,000 ($277,000).
Top photo caption: Jane Fonda at the Fire Drill Fridays event on Dec 02, 2022 in Washington, DC