Jim Dine

“Jim Dine created some of the most resilient subjects in American art…his paintings evoke the vestiges of identity and his partly conscious search to recognize a self from a multitude of discordant parts.”(Frankel 24)

Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 16, 1935. He studied at night at the Cincinnati Art Academy during his senior year of high school and then attended the University of Cincinnati. He also attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He finally received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ohio University, in 1957. After graduation, he moved to New York City and became involved with a circle of artists that included Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein; however he was especially impressed and influenced by the ideals of Kaprow and his “Happenings”. Dine states,” Kaprow expounded a point of view of art as a process of continuing change. If something was not new, if the artist was not creating something totally new, Kaprow argued that the artist had sold out.”(Harper 13) Dine incorporates images of everyday objects in his artwork, but he diverges from the coldness and impersonal nature of Pop Art by making works that fuse his personal passions with his childhood and everyday experiences.

His repeated use of familiar and personally significant objects, such as a robe, hands, tools, and hearts, is a signature of his art. In his early work, Dine generally created assemblages for which he attached actual objects to his painted canvases. From 1959 to 1960, Dine was also a pioneer of happenings, works of art that took the form of theatrical events or demonstrations. In 1967, Dine and his family moved to London, England, where he devoted his energies to printmaking and drawing.

Dine’s prints have most often consisted of solitary or analogous images that initiate his personal metaphorical dialogue with the viewer. Each symbol has been treated singly or in diagrammatic groups. One of his most notable key symbols are his tool based works.

One tool that was a strong motif in Dine's prints was the simple paintbrush. Dine used one copper plate reworked six differing times to create his series "Five Paintbrushes." Dine used a printmaking method called, etching, to produce and rework these prints. Each particular state of the "Five Paintbrushes" series has its own unique characteristics in appearance and size. The first state is an etching of five centered varying sized paintbrushes that are printed in black on a sheet of 30 x 40 inch paper from a 23 1/2 x 35 1/2 inch copper plate. For the second state edition Dine adds six more brushes and 3 3/4 inches were cut from the right edge of the plate. For the third state, three inches were cut from the top and 4 1/2 inches were cut off, taking one of the brushes off and establishing the final width of the plate. Throughout these final reworked periods brushes were made fuller by additional etching and drypoint lines, the plate was manipulated with an electric drill sander, a soft ground texture was added to provide a grey background for the fourth state, and finally the fifth state plate was cut to its final dimension of 14 x 27 1/4 inches. Also, the fifth state had drypoint and etched lines added to darken the background. Dine's sixth and final editions ended up being printed in green and black on a 27 1/2 x 39 1/2 inch Murillo paper. It is hard to establish a firm grasp on the meaning Dine intended for these various editions.

One artist claims, "Jim Dine's "Five Paintbrushes” sends its own political message aimed at the art community. Five old and used paintbrushes, representing, without too much imagination, the obsolete tools of the abstract expressionists, which hang motionless like some sort of store display."  However, this may be true i feel the true meaning it that Dine’s method involved repeating his theme again and again, often in several mediums. Through a process of exploration and reinvention the common image lost its place in the public domain and was stamped exclusively with the artist’s signature, becoming his vehicle for communicating a range of emotional and aesthetic intentions. This commitment to a personally invested image, dictated content and a continuing interest in the technical and expressive potential of every medium has characterized Dine’s work as a whole. Thus, Dine has often been out-of-step with the major movements of the post-World War II period and must be considered a modern individualist.

            Having seen Dine's work through study and personal experience, i have found it difficult to stear away from creating such similiar tool-based works.  I have found a link between Dine's content, techniques, and concepts that is so similiar to my own that it has helped push my artistic effort for accomplishment.  Art is indeed a highly personal experience, and Dine reflects this statement throughout all his works.  Dine has encouraged me to continue my search for personal art.