The Last Trip Home (Diana's Funeral)

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Charcoal, pencil, and pastel on paper
44.5 x 30 inches
Collection of
National Gallery of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

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).

The series concludes with the drawing Last Trip Home, in which Diana lies in state at Westminster Abbey, flanked by strange "admirers." In the end, Dial's Princess Di series fittingly closes his twentieth century. The series, Dial's yard show in miniature, is a heartfelt, even awe-inspired, tribute to an unexpected star for Dial's stage: a saint for the media age, a pop icon (albeit an ephemeral one) for blue bloods and hoi polloi. She was a resurrection of Dial's "posing movie star," the heroine of a series of his early watercolors. Diana's tragedy signaled the end of an empire and the beginning of a unification of all races, ethnicities, and social classes. And yet, every inch of every work in this series is a let-it-all-hang-out satirization of the artificiality, the wretched excess, the hyperbole of the whole garish mess.