Dine, Jim

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DINE, JIM (1935– ), U.S. painter, sculptor, printmaker, performance artist, book illustrator, stage designer, and poet. Cincinnati-born Jim Dine studied art at the Cincinnati Art Academy (1951–53), the Boston Museum School (fall 1955), and Ohio University (1954–57). He burst onto the art scene as a purveyor of artist performances known as Happenings after moving to New York City in 1958. The 32nd performance, Smiling Workman (1960), was followed by The Vaudeville Show (1960) and Car Crash (1960). At this time Dine also began making assemblages – canvases that incorporate found materials. Lawnmower from 1962 employs an actual lawnmower on a pedestal. The handlebars of this ordinary object lean against the canvas, which is mounted on the wall and painted with thick hues of green and yellow, suggesting grass and the sun. This kind of mixed-media work is one of many that utilize the everyday objects that continue to define Dine's oeuvre.

During the 1960s Dine was associated with Pop art, but the cold impartiality of the movement went against the artist's desire to imbue his work with elements of his own personality. Throughout the years, Dine instilled new layers of meaning in the varied objects which preoccupy his art, including hearts, trees, tools, gates, the Venus de Milo, and robes. These themes are reiterated in different media and in different styles. Tools have been painted, drawn, and created as prints, as well as used in assemblages. Similarly, bathrobes – introduced in 1964 – have been rendered in many media. The empty robes are meant to be self-portraits. Painted while in Jerusalem, Light Comes upon the Old City (1979) is a large canvas showing a dark empty robe suffused with golden light.

Ever restless and continually experimental, in 1966 the prolific Dine designed the costumes for the San Francisco Actor's Workshop production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and in 1967–68 he designed costumes for a version of Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray that never reached the stage. Several illustrated volumes of Dine's poems have been published (1969, 1987). He also illustrated a version of Guillaume Apollinaire's The Poet Assassinated (1968) and Sigmund Freud's The Case of the Wolf-Man (1993), among other books. In 1998 Dine designed a heart logo for the 67th General Assembly of the Jewish Council of Federations in Jerusalem.


G.W.J. Beal, Jim Dine: Five Themes (1984); C.W. Glenn, Jim Dine: Drawings (1985); J.E. Feinberg, Jim Dine (1995); M. Livingstone, Jim Dine: The Alchemy of Images (1998); E. Carpenter, Jim Dine Prints, 1985–2000: A Catalogue Raisonné (2002).

[Samantha Baskind (2nd ed.)]