One of America’s most prolific artists, Jim Dine is a painter, sculptor, illustrator, poet and performance artist.
Early Life and Education
Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. After the death of his mother, when he was twelve, Dine lived with his paternal grandparents, who were Jewish immigrants from Poland, and owned a hardware store in Cincinnati. Much of Dine’s work has been based on his attachment to personal objects, including the tools that he saw in his grandparents’ shop.
After graduating from high school, Dine studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati with Paul Chidlaw, who influenced Dine’s use of color and abstraction. (Tom Wesselman was also a student of Chidlaw.) Dine continued his studies at Ohio University, from which he received a BFA in 1957.
Career and Family
After graduating from Ohio University, Dine moved to New York, at a time in history when American artists were breaking away from European traditions and creating art that more closely reflected American culture.
Artists like Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow were staging what Kaprow named Happenings, the pre-cursor to performance art, which were staged events that took place in galleries that depended on audience reaction to see what happens.
Dine’s first Happening called The Smiling Workman, was held at the Judson Gallery in 1960. Dine stood onstage in a painters smock, in front of a large canvas, on which he painted I love what I’m doing, HELP! He then drank what looked like paint, but was actually tomato juice, from one of the buckets he was using and poured the rest of the bucket’s contents over his head.
When the Norton Simon Museum included Dine’s work, along with Andy Warhol’s, Roy Lichtenstien’s, Ed Ruscha’s and others, in its New Painting of Common Objects exhibit in 1962, Dine’s career, and the Pop Art movement, began to take off.
Dine married Nancy Minto in 1957. The couple had three sons. He moved the family to England in 1967 and began to focus on more traditional painting because, although Dine had commercial success, especially those in which he incorporated actual objects to his paintings, he was not satisfied with much of the work he was doing.
Dine and his family returned to the U.S. in 1971. The time in England seemed to be well spent, since, upon his return, Dine created drawings and sculptures that were well received.
His work has always been very personal, focusing on ordinary objects that have deep personal meaning for him. The story of Pinocchio has been a significant focus of Dine’s. He has done illustrations, paintings and giant sculptures of Carlo Collodi’s troubled puppet.
Dine is currently married to photographer Diana Michener. The couple have a home and studio in Walla Walla, Washington. His work can be found in major venues including MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the British Museum, London.
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