A Piece of Art

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Tin, gypsum powder, and enamel on canvas on wood
105.5 x 69.5 x 3.5 inches
Collection of
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

A Piece of Art is Dial's attempt to find common ground with the high Modernist aesthetic. It is a lyrical, all-over rendering of soft pastel colors that Dial created in response to seeing the work of Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell. For Dial, Mitchell's work presented a significant challenge: her completely non-objective paintings offered no obvious content from which he could create a sympathetic narrative. Confronted with this puzzle, Dial's answer was to play with the pure visual vocabulary of Mitchell's art, to signify on Abstract Expressionism itself. In one sense, Dial's painting is an homage to modern art, the dominant pictorial idiom of the twentieth century. As its title implies, the piece is also a satire on the self-referential and purely formalistic art-for-art's sake ideology that has so often informed aesthetic judgements over the last century.