Two years ago, I was introduced to the work of Jim Dine on an art class field trip to galleries in Chelsea. As I walked into the Pace-Wildenstein, Dine’s exhibit: Hot Dream (52 Books) overtook my senses. I fell in love with Dine’s imagination, vivid colors, and expressive style.
Jim Dine was born on June 16, 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated with a BFA degree from Ohio University in June 1957. Dine lived and worked in New York and London, working on a series of themes and projects. He is often considered a pop artist and was involved with the first Happenings. However Dine argues, “I’m not a Pop artist. I’m not part of the movement because I’m too subjective. Pop is concerned with exteriors. I’m concerned with interiors. When I use objects, I see them as a vocabulary of feelings…I think it’s important to be autobiographical. What I try to do in my work is explore myself in physical terms—to explain something in terms of my own sensibilities” (Livingstone 14). Dine often used “common” objects as a medium to explore in his art. For example, hardware tools, hearts, skulls, and bathrobes are prominent in his work. These seemingly commonplace objects stand in as icons for Dine. He was greatly influenced by his grandfather’s hardware store, where he used to work in his adolescence. The hearts are thought to represent his wife, Nancy, and other figures are thought to represent himself: “I used them (tools) because they felt right. They felt like relatives of mine, as though their last name was Dine” (Glenn 15). What I appreciate about Dine is his ability to further explore and stretch the idea and subject of tools. He uses certain objects and keeps reusing them, extending the limits so that his expression comes out. I also admire his variability on simplicity and complexity. Some of his works are just a tool, and in others you can see the previous marks he made, the layers he built up, etc. He uses many different mediums including charcoal, collage, etching, paint, and sculpture.
Here are some works that I think exemplify his style:
Self in the Ocean
Untitled (Five-bladed Saw) from Untitled Tool Series (https://moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A1547&page_number=64&template_id=1&sort_order=1)
A Robe Against the Desert Sky
- Constance W. Glenn. Jim Dine: Drawings. Harry N. Abrams, Inc: 1985.
-Marco Livingstone. Jim Dine: The Alchemy of Images. Monacelli Press, Inc: 1998.