Jim Dine


Jim Dine was born June 16, 1935, in Cincinnati, Ohio. While living with his maternal grandparents, Dine worked throughout his youth at his grandfather’s hardware store. This appreciation for hand tools would later become a theme in may of his artworks. studied at night at the Cincinnati Art Academy during his senior year of high school and then attended the University of Cincinnati, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Ohio University, Athens, from which he received his B.F.A. in 1957.

After graduation, Dine moved to New York City and became involved with Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldeburg, and Roy Lichenstein whose work moved away from abstract expressionism toward pop art..1959, he staged his first HAPPENING., works of art that took the form of theatrical events or demonstrations. At the same time, he was painting, working in collage, and creating his first prints, the Car Crash series which commemorated the death of a friend.

In the ensuing years, his work took on a more figurative, yet still highly personal style. He has created an autobiography through objects which are privately symbolic. He exhibited at the Judson Gallery, New York, in 1958 and 1959, and his first solo show took place at the Reuben Gallery, New York.  Between 1960 and 1965 he had various guest professorships, among others at Yale University, New Haven, and Oberlin College, Ohio. He was represented at the Venice Biennale in 1964, and at the documents "4" in Kassel in 1968.

Dine is closely associated with the development of Pop art in the early 1960s. There are strong hints of abstract expressionism and his love for paint, despite the presence of real everyday objects such as tools, rope, shoes, neckties, and other articles of clothing, and even a bathroom sink, to his canvases. Characteristically, these objects were Dine’s personal possessions.

His bathrobe studies, for instance, are progressive self-portraits. Dine's graphic prints reflect his skill as a draftsman and his virtuosity as a painter. Frequently, these skills are combined, but more often he has chosen to separate them so that some prints dramatically display his linear techniques and others his power as a painter.

The Janis exhinition signaled a major shift in the American art world; Janis had been a promoter of Abstract Expressionism, and frequently showed the work of Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and Philip Guston.  These artists felt the dealer had taken sides in favor of the new phenomenon, Pop Art, and following the critical and popular appeal of the New Realists exhibition, all of the New Realists exhibition, all of the Abstract Expressionists Janis represented ( except de Kooning) left the dealer. As art historian David Bourdon explained, the New Realists show was the " apotheosis of the emerging Pop tendancy (and) ...the most provocative art event of the season, marking one of the most divisive moments in the history of the New York art world." (1)

Many do not define Dine as a Pop artist. That his work is too warm for Pop-too personal, too caught up in his own emotions. That everywhere he reacts lyrically. That basically Dine is a romantic, whose love affairs are with the personal references elicited by the objects he works with. In an interview " What is Pop Art", Dine is quoted: " I don't believe there was a sharp break and this (Pop Art) is replacing Abstract Expressionism. Pop art is only one facet of my work. More than popular images I'm interested in personal images...I tie myself to Abstract Expressionism like fathers and sons." (2)

Dine has also made a number of three-dimensional works and environments, and is well-known for his drawings and prints. He has written and illustrated several books of poetry. His recent art  which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, graphics, and collages uses imagery borrowed from ancient Greek, Egyptian, and African objects.  He has combined different techniques with handwritten text and words and set real everyday objects against undefined backgrounds.

In 1965, Dine was a guest lecturer at Yale University, New Haven, and artist-in-residence at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. He was a visiting artist at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1967. From 1967 to 1971, he and his family lived in London. His work appears in major collections across the United States and abroad, and he has been honored with several prizes and admissions to prestigious art societies, such as the American Academy and Institute of Art and Letters, New York.  In 1970, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organized a major retrospective of his work, and in 1978 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, presented a retrospective of his etchings. Dine lives in New York and Putney, Vermont.
(1) Quoted in Fineberg, Jim Dine, 18.
(2) Quoted in Fineberg, Jim Dine, 19