Jim Dine

Overview

The first book ever to integrate Jim Dine's diverse accomplishments into one coherent chronological narrative.

The youngest of a handful of brash upstarts (soon to be labeled Pop artists) who stole the art world's spotlight from the Abstract Expressionists in the late 1950s and early '60s, Dine has been a restlessly creative force in the art world. Insatiable for new experiences, he has refused to limit himself to any one place or any one way of making art, though he has been ...

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Overview

The first book ever to integrate Jim Dine's diverse accomplishments into one coherent chronological narrative.

The youngest of a handful of brash upstarts (soon to be labeled Pop artists) who stole the art world's spotlight from the Abstract Expressionists in the late 1950s and early '60s, Dine has been a restlessly creative force in the art world. Insatiable for new experiences, he has refused to limit himself to any one place or any one way of making art, though he has been surprisingly faithful to certain subjects, including his famous hearts, tools, bathrobes, and Venuses.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Dine has lived in New York, London, and Vermont and has spent extended periods working in numerous other cities, from Paris and Munich to Key West, Los Angeles, and Walla Walla, Washington. His aesthetic progress has been equally peripatetic, taking him from his early Pop painting and performance art to experimentation with sculpture and print-making. At age 65, he remains as feisty and as fearless as ever.

Dine's works are found in major collections worldwide, including the Stedelijk Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pompidou Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and National Gallery of Art.

About the Modern Masters series:

With infomative, enjoyable texts and over 100 illustrations—approximately 48 in full color—this innovative series offers a fresh look at the most creative and influential artists of the postwar era. The authors are highly respected art historians and critics chosen for their ability to think clearly and write well. Each handsomely designed volume presents athorough survey of the artist's life and work, as well as statements by the artist, an illustrated chapter on technique, a chronology, lists of exhibitions and public collections, an annotated bibliography, and an index. Every art lover, from the casual museumgoer to the serious student, teacher, critic, or curator, will be eager to collect these Modern Masters. And with such a low price, they can afford to collect them all.

Other Details: 115 or more illustrations, approximately 48 in full color 128 pages 8 1/2 x 8 1/2" Published 1995

everyday objects that have personal or cultural meaning for him. This process began in his earliest days, when he gathered junk from the streets around the Judson Church in Greenwich Village in order to create an environment for a Happening brimming with life. It continues now with his adaptations of a kitschy plastic souvenir statue of the Venus de Milo and a nineteenth-century porcelain figurine of an ape and cat.

Dine's art is characterized by the investment of multiple layers of meaning in the objects he depicts. He projects part of his psyche, his emotional inner being, onto these objects, so that each one becomes a container that he fills and then uses as an instrument of communication with the viewer. Dine takes a paintbrush—whether it is a depiction of a paintbrush or the real tool itself—and isolates it from its functional context, letting it hang in midair. Or he empties a man's robe, so that it floats bodiless in atmospheric color. He turns these images into repositories of his own emotional state, but at the same time viewers are seduced into projecting their own feelings onto the subject.

Occasionally there is humor in Dine's work, but more often it communicates pathos, sexual rapture, or joyous beauty. Never is there irony, cynicism, or a distant intellectual stance. Because the artist is never cool or disengaged, the viewer is never left feeling out in the cold. We are all forced, when viewing a work of art by Jim Dine, into a position of psychic projection and emotional involvement. Universally recognized forms, such as a heart, are transformed from being commonplace or even trite to being highly personal. The mundane is reinvented and thus reinvested with meaning. Although Dine has painted, drawn, and sculpted hundreds of hearts, robes, tools, skulls, and Venuses, no two have ever been alike. For example, the most basic contour of the heart-its bulging, breastlike curves-has remained constant, but its symbolic value has been newly investigated again and again. Each shape is merely a template, a starting point for the artist's never-ending invention.

Praise for the Modern Masters series:

"Each author has thoroughly done his or her homework, knows the historical, critical and personal contexts intimately, and writes extraordinarily well." -Artnews

Author Biography: Jean E. Feinberg—previously curator at Wave Hill in New York—is Curator of Contemporary Art at the Cincinnati Art Museum and co-author of a catalogue raisonne of Dine's prints, 1977-85.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Best known for his paintings, drawings and prints of hearts, tools, scissors, gates, robes, hair and skulls, Dine elevates ordinary objects into recurring multifaceted symbols. Yet his range is considerably broader, as this adventurous monograph reveals with the aid of 55 color plates and 70 black-and-whites. Cincinnati-born Dine burst on the New York art scene in 1959 as an environmental sculptor. Car Crash (1960), a performance piece, created a potent metaphor for danger and the omnipresent specter of death. Straw Heart (1966), a delicate, resonating sculpture, preceded his famous series of heart paintings. Dine's tree pictures of the early 1980s, reflecting his move to Vermont, evoke sensuous, spidery forms exuding an eerie allure. His recent mystical oils are crammed with a multitude of images, ranging from flowers to a bodhisattva (enlightened being). Feinberg, a curator at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, skillfully charts the twists and turns of Dine's career. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558597518
  • Publisher: Abbeville Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Series: Modern Masters Series Series
  • Pages: 127
  • Product dimensions: 8.86 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Jim Dine's transformation from youthful midwestern art student to celebrated New York artist occurred almost overnight. This transpired at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, when he was the youngest among a handful of brash upstarts who stole the art world's spotlight from the Abstract Expressionists. Since that star-struck beginning, Dine has purposefully charted his own independent course. At times his art has helped define the moment; at other stages it has forecast ideas that others would expand upon years later. At times his course has inadvertently led him outside the focus of critical attention, at times he has deliberately distanced himself from the Zeitgeist.

Two profound influences on Dine's art can be discerned. First, his guides have increasingly become not his contemporaries but earlier masters, from ancient to modern. His respect for those who lived the life of art before him has grown as he has grown, and his knowledge of art history is both deep and wide. Second, Dine has, after much initial self-doubt, come to know and trust his inner self. Because Dine's apprenticeship was so short, he had no time to watch the art world from the outside, to learn its ways and then stake out his own territory. He was immediately pulled into the raucous art scene of the early 1960s and elevated to star status, which meant that he had to mature as artist and as an individual under the glaring light of fame. Perhaps for this reason, after his jump-start initiation he came to accept the fact that hand in hand with success went public scrutiny of the "self." He found a source for making art not just in his own private experience of personal growth butalso in revealing that experience to the public, and that public exposure became an ongoing motivation, enabling him to forge ahead. In recent years, when asked to explain the twists and turns in his career and his reasons for making one choice over another, the artist has frequently responded, "I have gone where my passions have taken me."

Part of the appeal of Dine's art to the public at large comes from its inherent honesty of emotions. Whether he is motivated by joy or by sorrow, these states of being are right there for the viewer to grab hold of and experience firsthand. This accessibility of feeling has a charismatic allure. Such an unabashed display of emotions, coupled with Dine's respect for his artistic predecessors, is so unusual at century's end that viewers have even more reason to be enticed by the rewards that Dine's art offers. Through his art, Dine turns his passions into ours.

Dine's art is often examined by critics according to one of two organizing principles. Because he has tackled so many mediums—performance, painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and book illustration—his production in each medium can be isolated and analyzed separately to great benefit. Yet this approach has often left curators, critics, and the public with the inaccurate perception that Dine is principally a printmaker, or a painter, or a draftsman. Also, because Dine has worked with certain recurring images, his oeuvre has frequently been examined and exhibited in terms of these subjects: his tools, his hearts, his gates, his Venuses. Again, the drawback of this approach is that it presents Dine's production as narrower than it actually is.

This volume sets aside these two approaches in favor of a chronological examination of his life and art. It aspires to capture the essence of his constant experimentation, tremendous ambition, and prolific output. One characteristic factor has unified all of Dine's art: his veneration of the familiar—that is, his devotion to often ordinary objects and his elevation of them to multifaceted symbols. Dine's process has always been to discover something—usually a found object or image—that somehow resonates for him and then to invent a new meaning for it. He does not select neutral images from popular culture. Rather, he picks everyday objects that have personal or cultural meaning for him. This process began in his earliest days, when he gathered junk from the streets around the Judson Church in Greenwich Village in order to create an environment for a Happening brimming with life. It continues now with his adaptations of a kitschy plastic souvenir statue of the Venus de Milo and a nineteenth-century porcelain figurine of an ape and cat.

Dine's art is characterized by the investment of multiple layers of meaning in the objects he depicts. He projects part of his psyche, his emotional inner being, onto these objects, so that each one becomes a container that he fills and then uses as an instrument of communication with the viewer. Dine takes a paintbrush—whether it is a depiction of a paintbrush or the real tool itself—and isolates it from its functional context, letting it hang in midair. Or he empties a man's robe, so that it floats bodiless in atmospheric color. He turns these images into repositories of his own emotional state, but at the same time viewers are seduced into projecting their own feelings onto the subject.

Occasionally there is humor in Dine's work, but more often it communicates pathos, sexual rapture, or joyous beauty. Never is there irony, cynicism, or a distant intellectual stance. Because the artist is never cool or disengaged, the viewer is never left feeling out in the cold. We are all forced, when viewing a work of art by Jim Dine, into a position of psychic projection and emotional involvement. Universally recognized forms, such as a heart, are transformed from being commonplace or even trite to being highly personal. The mundane is reinvented and thus reinvested with meaning. Although Dine has painted, drawn, and sculpted hundreds of hearts, robes, tools, skulls, and Venuses, no two have ever been alike. For example, the most basic contour of the heart-its bulging, breastlike curves-has remained constant, but its symbolic value has been newly investigated again and again. Each shape is merely a template, a starting point for the artist's never-ending invention.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 7
1 From Ohio to New York 11
2 The Liberating Lessons of Europe 39
3 Renewal Through Figure Drawing 51
4 The Landscape Expands 63
5 "Follow My Passions" 75
Notes 97
Artist's Statements 101
Notes on Technique 107
Chronology 113
Exhibitions 117
Public Collections 121
Selected Bibliography 123
Index 126
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