American artist Jim Dine was born in 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio to second-generation Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In 1948, Dine began to take art classes at the studio of local artist Vincent Taylor, and in high school, he attended evening classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He 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. Dine moved to New York in 1959.
Later that year Dine, along with Claes Oldenburg and Marc Racliff, opened the Judson Gallery in the Judson Memorial Church with a group exhibition. He also became represented by the Reuben Gallery. By 1960, Dine had become known as one of the important creators of “Happenings”, such as Smiling Workman, The Vaudeville Show, and Car Crash. These events were inspired by personal events, found materials, and a sense of collaboration shared by others, such as Allan Kaprow and Oldenburg.
In 1962 Dine’s work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Dowd, Edward Ruscha, and Wayne Thiebaud, in the historic and ground-breaking New Painting of Common Objects, at the Norton Simon Museum. This exhibition is considered to be one of the first “Pop Art” exhibitions in America. The Pop-Abstract Expressionist divide had lasting effects for Jim Dine. Like many of his colleagues, such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Claes Oldenburg. Jim Dine did not separate himself completely from Abstract Expressionism. Instead, he blended an expressive and human style with recognizable and often personal objects. He was able to incorporate the basic philosophies of both movements into his work. In a 1963 interview, “What is Pop Art,” Dine explained his position:
“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.”
Constantly traveling, he moved frequently to find inspiration in different environments and grow creatively from new challenges. He has also sought out new print shops and foundries to continue evolving his work and developing new techniques. In 1965, Jim Dine was a guest lecturer at Yale University and artist-in-residence at Oberlin College in Ohio. He was a visiting artist at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1967. Also in 1967, Dine moved to London. He was represented by the Fraser Gallery there and spent the next four years developing his art. Returning to the United States in 1971, he focused on several series of drawings. In the 1980’s sculpture resumed a prominent place in his art. In 1984, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, exhibited his work as “Jim Dine: Five Themes,” and in 1989, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts hosted “Jim Dine Drawings: 1973-1987”. “For me, drawing is everything—because it informs everything. It even informs my poetry. It’s the way I begin everything.”
By 2004, the National Gallery of Art, Washington organized the exhibition, “Drawings of Jim Dine.” In May of 2008, Jim Dine inaugurated a nine meter high bronze statue depicting a walking Pinocchio, named Walking to Borås. Dine previously worked on a commercial book, paintings, and sculptures that focused on Pinocchio. He feels that “the idea of a talking stick becoming a boy [is] like a metaphor for art, and it’s the ultimate alchemical transformation.” 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, and the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin. Over the last four decades, Dine has produced more than three thousand paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints, as well as performance works, stage and book designs, poetry, and even music. His art has been the subject of numerous individual and group shows and is in the permanent collections of museums around the world.
Selected Public Collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Jewish Museum, NY; National Gallery, Washington DC; Boston Museum of Fine Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angles County Museum; Art Museum, Princeton University; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Cincinnati Art Museum, Akron Art Institute, Ohio; Dallas Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Tate Gallery, London, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Western Australian Museum, Perth; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.
An interview with Jim Dine
by Ilka Skobie
YouTube: Inside New York’s Art World: Jim Dine
Interviewer: Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel