“Thornton Dial used found objects in his environment, which I think is just so beautiful. He gave discarded things a second life, brilliantly repurposing material with an impact that very few artists ever had.”
Who knew? Activist, actor, and art collector Jane Fonda is also a lover of outsider art. According to The Art Newspaper, the eighty-five year old is listing fourteen artworks for auction at Christie’s annual Outsider and Vernacular art auction in New York on January 18th, 2023.
Among those up for auction are artworks by Thornton Dial, his brother, Arthur Dial, and his son, Thornton Dial, Jr. Per The Art Newspaper, “Acquired by the actress over the past two decades, the works range from painted, animal-shaped benches by Dial Jr., each estimated to fetch $2,000 to $4,000, to large-scale mixed media wall works by Thornton Dial, estimated to sell for between $50,000 and $100,000.”
Jane Fonda reportedly was introduced to works by self-taught Black artists from the South through prominent collector Bill Arnett, who at the time of his passing in 2020 had one of the largest private collections of outsider art in the world. Along with the Dial family, not up for auction in Fonda’s collection includes works by Missionary Mary L. Proctor, Purvis Young and Ronald Lockett.
Fonda had previously collected mostly plein air paintings by women, and she was deeply moved by works she saw by artists such as Dial, Lonnie Holley and Joe Minter. “I couldn’t believe the dynamism, the energy, the courage, the rawness of these works,” she says, adding that she bought several on the spot.The Art Newspaper
While outsider art is sneaking in more and more collections of art collectors across the country, it still comes as a bit of a delightful surprise to learn that works by some of the most talented and under the radar artists of the past century are in the collections of such notable people.
It’s worth noting the Jane Fonda also invested in Arnett’s foundation to support Black vernacular art and currently serves as a trustee of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Shout out to the magnificent Miss Fonda and power to more people to support these incredible artists.