​Unique Bronzes

for the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles

Modernist architect Gene Summers first met artist Jim Dine in Chicago while working in the office of Mies van der Rohe in the 1950s and 1960s. During this time, Summers began building his personal art collection and the two developed a close friendship. Dine’s art became a passion of Summers and influenced many of the architect’s projects.

The restoration of the Los Angeles Biltmore was one such project, and in 1976, Summers and his business partner Phyllis Lambert commissioned Dine to create new works for the historic hotel—from carpets and mirrors to artworks and lamps.

With the project underway in the early 1980s, Summers arranged for his friend to teach a class at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. During his time there, Dine created a series of bronzes at the school’s foundry to be displayed in the hotel’s restaurant, Bernard’s. The artist incorporated tools and materials found at the Biltmore during renovations into the bronzes themselves to create a series of forty-six unique works.

Interior view of Bernard's Restaurant, Biltmore Hotel, 1974–1985, Photo: Bill Hedrich (Werner Blaser)

Jim Dine b. 1935

For nearly six decades, American artist Jim Dine has evoked the power of symbolism, familiarity, and the search for self through a variety of mediums. A seeming critique on modern society, Dine places personal possessions and regular objects at the focal point of his prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures. His evolving imagery includes reoccurring themes such as heart shapes, bathrobes, tools, and the human body for which he is best known.

Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. His grandfather owned a hardware store where he worked throughout his youth later influencing his interest in ordinary objects. “I grew up with tools…I’ve always been enchanted by these objects made by anonymous hands,” he has stated. From 1953-1957 Dine studied poetry at the University of Cincinnati and later the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. After receiving his BFA from the Ohio University in Athens, GA, he moved to New York in 1958.

Dine began participating in stage performances, later known as “Happenings”, alongside artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Robert Whitman, and John Cage. The performances helped to launch his career and his first solo exhibition was held in New York at the Reuben Gallery in 1960. While frequently associated with Pop Art that developed at this time, the artist does not identify with a specific movement. In 1966 he remarked, "Pop is concerned with exteriors…I'm concerned with interiors." He continued to develop his body of work expanding upon his iconic themes with series of flowers, trees, and the Venus di Milo.

His work has been exhibited internationally and been the focus of major retrospectives at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art (1970), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1999), and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (2004). Dine’s work is included in prestigious collections around the world including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Jim Dine lives and works between New York, Paris, and Walla Walla, WA.

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