Jim Dine (b. 1935)
Whether you consider his art Pop, Neo-Dadaist, Neo-Expressionist or Neo-Romantic (it has been called all of these), there’s no denying Jim Dine’s presence and longevity in the art world.
This masterful printmaker and draftsman is an unusually prolific artist who has produced thousands of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures of diverse scale, as well as illustrated books and stage design over the course of his 50+ year career. Through it all, he has gone his own way, a modern artist largely unengaged with aesthetic or market trends.
Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. During his senior year of high school, Dine began taking night classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati under the instruction of abstract painter Paul Chidlaw. Dine continued to pursue his passion for art after high school, attending The University of Cincinnati and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston before graduating from Ohio University with a B.F.A. in 1957.
Jim Dine moved to New York City in 1958 where he earned early recognition as a pioneer of Happenings – highly conceptual works of performance art. Working alongside artists Claes Oldenburg, Allan Kaprow and Robert Whitman, Dine produced and performed several Happenings including “The House” and “The Smiling Worker.”
While Jim Dine’s Happenings were well received by the art avant-garde, they failed to gain traction with mainstream audiences. Dine’s break-out moment came in 1962 when several of his paintings were chosen for display in “New Painting of Common Objects,” the first Pop Art exhibition held in the U.S. This exhibition, which introduced American art connoisseurs to the sharply rendered wit of Pop Art, also featured works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Dowd and Wayne Thiebaud, among others.
The Pop Art movement of the early 1960’s may have brought Jim Dine greater fame, but he found himself at odds with the movement’s cold, detached nature. It conflicted with the more expressive and autobiographical work in which he attached everyday objects – shoes, rope, tools, even a broken box spring - to his paintings and etchings, each one of them a personal possession.
During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Jim Dine began to focus almost exclusively on drawing and on a limited visual vocabulary – hearts, tools, robes, birds, trees – which he obsessively repeats. Using various compositional devices and color palettes often across media, he makes these familiar images his own. The robe, in particular, with its suggestion of human form, becomes a metaphor for the artist as a creative but solitary individual. In the 1980s, this work became both more grandly gestural with single images on a large scale, often, though not always, somber in tone. These romantic, symbolic works are perhaps his most successful, artistically and commercially. They are certainly the work for which he is best known and recognized.
Work by Jim Dine is held by The British Museum, The Honolulu Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Guggenheim, Tate Modern and many more. He continues to make art to this day.