Bad Picture

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
  • Click on image to enlarge

    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1997 to 1998
Paint, metal, bicycle parts, rubber metal pipe, wire, canvas scraps, magazine photo, cameras, protective glasses, wood, roots, artificial hair, industrial sealing compound
87 x 105 x 41

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Description: 

The death of Princess Diana in 1997 catalyzed Dial's most ambitious series of artworks to date, executed in the tradition of religious art "cycles" that memorialize the lives of holy 

The death of Princess Diana in 1997 catalyzed Dial's most ambitious series of artworks to date, executed in the tradition of religious art "cycles" that memorialize the lives of holy or noble figures. The cycle comprises four "stations": (1) the moment of death (Bad Picture); (2) the funeral procession and departure of the soul (Doll House and Last Trip Home); (3) the state of the world she lived in (Royal Flag and Master of the Red Meat); and (4) the moral, or the attempt to universalize the subject's meaning and effect (Stone Walls and Diana's Closet).

Bad Picture, represents Diana's demise. Part burial monument, part jeremiad against society's ghoulish fascination with celebrity tragedies, the work depicts an eerie figure riding a bicycle above cagelike wreckage surrounded by paparazzi and the accident's victims, Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. The paparazzo at the rear of the sculpture is sexually aroused by the opportunity to snap the dying princess. Dial was drawn to the media's feasting on Diana's corpse. His reasons exceed the expected artistic interest in dramatic subject material, for his own reputation and career had been severely damaged a few years earlier by members of the media, with aftereffects that lingered for him at the time of Diana's death. Perhaps his treatment of the photographer in Bad Picture is a whimsical attempt (Dial calls it a "serious joke") at score-settling.