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Atlanta’s High Museum of Art will be a stop on the tour of “Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial,” a 20-year retrospective that opens in February at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Organized by the IMA, the exhibit is to be the most extensive ever mounted of the renowned Alabama self-taught artist.

Dial is no stranger to Atlanta. His work is on view at the High, and his sculpture honoring John Lewis graces Freedom Park. Dial’s work was the core of “Souls Grown Deep,” the breakout exhibit of folk art that ran during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Atlanta art dealer William Arnett, who has championed Dial for some 25 years, likely owns the largest cache of the octogenarian’s output. His Souls Grown Deep Foundation is the largest of the nine lenders to “Hard Truths.”

The connections don’t stop there. IMA Director Maxwell L. Anderson was director of Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum from 1987 to 1995 and worked with Arnett on “Souls Grown Deep.” The Carlos also had a Dial show during the Olympics. And that exhibit’s curator, Joanne Cubbs, the IMA’s adjunct curator of American art, was the High Museum’s first folk art curator.

“Hard Truths,” which will open at the High in 2013, will present 70 of Dial’s large-scale paintings, drawings and found-object sculptures, including 25 works on view for the first time.

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