Research: Jim Dine


I started by exploring a range of ways in which I could interpret the theme of “Journey”. My initial thoughts centred on travel and transport.

By brainstorming the theme I came up with some potential options for further investigation: human movement, transport by vehicles such as: bicycle, car, boat plane, train. These could also be thought of as the sum of their component parts, for example wheels, nuts, bolts gears, brakes, handlebars, engines. By breaking down the individual items into their components to deconstruct the whole object, it could be possible to come up with a more abstract approach to this topic, which I thought could work well using collagraph techniques.

Inspiration from Other Artists

I had recently read about the work of the artist Jim Dine, whose artistic practice often made use of motifs such as everyday objects and was keen to consider how this approach might be incorporated into my own work.

Dine is associated with the Pop Art and Neo Dadaist Movements whose artists often incorporated everyday objects into their artistic works. Early in his career, Dine worked with a number of influential artists, notably Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenberg, Robert Rauschenberg, and with musicians such as John Cage, on the creation of performance art .
This work drew inspiration from the fields of both music and art to create performances known as “Happenings” . The “Happenings” were a key influence in shaping the future direction of Dine’s own art, with a number of print works flowing from the Happening “Car Crash”( 1960). These were lithographs which incorporated elements such as black lettering and red crosses, in an expressionistic interpretation of the violence of a car crash.(Watrous, J, 1984, P234-235).

This red and black colour scheme is also seen in later works such as “The Black and Red Heart” 2013, (63.63 ins  x 47.5 ins), a woodcut with hand drawing, in an edition of 30, which depicts a large black and red heart placed in the centre of the picture plane on a contrasting black and red background. The artist has used thick diagonal marks, suggesting anger or frustration or maybe a broken heart. This is reinforced by the use of black with red rather than the traditional red of the love heart.
The direction of Dine’s work shifted away from performance art towards painting and printmaking incorporating the use of everyday objects within his work.

The objects he selected in his work often had personal significance in the life of the artist. Common themes included: tools, such as hammers and pliers, flowing from memories from early experiences associated with his father and grandfather’s family ironmongery business.(Watrous, J, 1984, P234-235).

Other common motifs include the bathrobe, hearts and Pinoccio figures. These were often reproduced in many different colours and sometimes repeated several times within a piece of work.

The heart motif reappears in many works, sometimes combining other motifs such as tools, as in ” A heart at the Opera”, 1983  a lithograph measuring 47x37inches produced in an edition of 50. The prints feature a large pink heart placed between a hammer placed above the heart at top right, and a saw placed horizontally across the lower edge of the picture plane. These are set against a contrasting complementary green background, adding to the visual impact of the heart. Interestingly this work also incorporates natural elements such as leaves and feathers.

My interpretation of the in elements are that the heart in pink suggests a romantic theme, the saw and hammer represent the persona of the artist himself and the inclusion of the natural objects refers to the decorative elements is costume seen at the opera. The addition of the saw and hammer perhaps refer to the vulnerability of the heart, the tools having the potential to break the heart.

Watrous, J,1984. A Century of American Printmaking. P234-235.




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