Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Ted Snell, Professor, Chief Cultural Officer, Cultural Precinct, University of Western Australia

Jim Dine was a heroic figure in American art schools in the 1960s. Linked to the Pop Art movement, his images of everyday objects empowered a generation of young artists with the idea that art could transform the mediocre, turning the humdrum and the commonplace into something magical. It offered a way into images and objects, making a very personal perspective from resources readily at hand.

image 8 Pinocchios (detail), 2010, part 5 from a set of 8 hand-coloured lithographs, 21.8 x 16.3 cm (image), 42.6 x 28.7 cm (sheet) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Gift of the artist, 20162016.910.a-h © Jim Dine

Some of Dine’s signature attractions were his reverence for the process of making art, his celebration of the tools of art — saws, brushes and hammers — and his energetic approach. His images of hearts and tools, Pinocchio and bathrobes, were rooted in the experiences of everyday life but were enlivened by their placement within a vibrant gestural, painterly ambience. It was also easy to emulate, and many did.

Dine’s dedication to printmaking was another factor in his popularity. His legendary “attacks” on his etching plates with angle grinders and power tools, the epic play of his multiple colour versions of his lithographs, and his virtuosity with chisels and carving tools when making relief prints ensured him a following in the days when printmaking was at its zenith.

It was a medium that could provide art for everyone, by embracing new reproductive technologies and simultaneously puncturing the elitism and pomposity of “high art”. Printmaking as practised by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jim Dine was egalitarian, hip and edgy. Unsurprisingly, it found many devotees.

However, the key element that secured Dine’s following among aspiring artists in the swinging ’60s was his autobiographical, diaristic approach to making art. The objects he chose to represent were either linked to his past or locked into his current interests. The tools he depicted were an echo of a childhood spent in his father’s hardware store in Cincinnati, the heart was a valentine for his wife, and the bathrobe became a representation of self, constantly re-invented and re-imagined in paintings, prints and drawings.

image Bill Clinton, 1992, power-tool abrasion over colour woodcut, artist’s proof, 31.3 x 25.7 cm (image and block), 53.5 x 38.6 cm (sheet) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Gift of the artist, 20162016.823© Jim Dine

Born in 1935 in Ohio, Dine arrived in New York in 1959. There he made his mark as one of the progenitors of “happenings”, performative artworks that blended theatre, the visual arts, music and ritual.

Along with Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow, Dine became well known for the hybrid artworks he performed at the Judson Gallery. In the studio he continued to make works with a similar hybrid spirit, combining actual objects with an overlay of gestural mark making while developing his iconography of hearts, bathrobes and other everyday objects.

Although he claimed never to have worn one, Dine first embraced the heroic form of the vacated robe as a subject in 1964 and gave his paintings and prints titles that often referred to himself, such as “Double Isometric Self-Portrait”. Without the human body to give the garment a point of specificity or individuality, the robe became an everyman as much as a self-portrait. As a result Dine was able to recast the image as a portrait of Bill Clinton, or to subjugate its human referent altogether with a title such as “Untitled (black robe)”.

“The mighty robe I”, made in 1985 with master printmaker Hansjörg Mayer in Stuttgart, seems to depict the artist as conquering hero. Although without a body, head or hands, he stands resolute and confident. The stained cavity of his absent chest presents an internal glow of strength and power and the robe acts as a kind of cape that provides superhuman powers. Seemingly with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, this image of the hero in his own bathroom is a particularly human and poignant portrait of the artist at age 50.

image Detail of Jim Dine, The mighty robe I, 1985. Colour lithograph with relief printing from polymer plates, 61.3 x 50.7 cm (image and plate), 89.2 x 63.4 cm (sheet) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of the artist, 2016, 2016.806, © Jim Din

Dine continued to exploit the bathrobe motif for over 30 years. The current exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Jim Dine: A Life in Print, features numerous variations such as “Two Florida bathrobes” 1986, “The kindergarten robes” 1983, “Blue robe” 2007 and “Cream and red robe on stone” 2010.

The exhibition features more than 100 prints covering 45 years of the artist’s work, selected from an extraordinary donation of 249 artworks Dine has made to the National Gallery of Victoria. The artist has made similar gifts to the British Museum and the Boston Fine Arts Museum, no doubt in the hope that future generations of young students seeking a point of entry into making images and objects might find sustenance in his embrace of the everyday. Let’s hope so!

Jim Dine: A Life in Print is showing at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, until October 15 2017.

Authors: Ted Snell, Professor, Chief Cultural Officer, Cultural Precinct, University of Western Australia

Read more http://theconversation.com/heres-looking-at-jim-dines-the-mighty-robe-80399

Writers Wanted

4 Reasons Why You Should Try Hypnotherapy


Guide to Shipping Container Hire


Distress, depression and drug use: young people fear for their future after the bushfires


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Guide to Shipping Container Hire

If you are thinking of hiring a shipping container rather than purchasing one, there are many great reasons to do so. It is a more affordable option and when you are done using it for what you neede...

News Co - avatar News Co

Top 5 US Logistics Companies

Nothing is more annoying than having to deal with unreliable shipping companies for your fragile and important packages. Other than providing the best customer service, a logistics company also ne...

News Co - avatar News Co

Luke Lazarus Helps Turns Startups into Global Stalwarts

There are many positive aspects to globalization. It is no secret that those who have been impacted by globalization tend to enjoy a higher standard of living in general. One factor that has led to ...

Emma Davidson - avatar Emma Davidson

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion