Jim Dine
Biography of American Pop Painter, Assemblage & Graphic Artist.

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Jim Dine (b.1935)


Early Life
Pop Art Assemblages and Mixed-Media Combinations
Exhibitions, Awards and Collections



Chiefly associated with the American Pop art movement of the 1960s, the painter, sculptor, printmaker and graphic artist Jim Dine first came to attention as a pioneer of Happenings and a member of Neo-Dada (1959-60). Shortly afterwards, he became identified - along with Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97), Ray Johnson (1927-95), Andy Warhol (1928-87), Robert Indiana (b.1928), Claes Oldenburg (b.1929), Tom Wesselmann (b.1931), James Rosenquist (b.1933), Alex Katz (b.1927) and Ed Ruscha (b.1937) - as a central figure in Pop art. His Pop pictures were painted in a style reminiscent of abstract expressionism, but - like his older contemporary Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) - Dine is best noted for his assemblage art and his witty compositions combining the painted canvas with found objects, often of an autobiographical nature. His later work was less effective but more traditional in style, and included most types of printmaking including lithography and etching.

Early Life

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim Dine studied art at the Cincinnati Academy (1951–3) and the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, after which he received a degree in fine art from Ohio University (1957). In the same year he married Nancy Minto and in 1958 they moved to New York. Here, Dine became an early pioneer of Happenings, a type of chaotic performance art, along with other young artists like John Cage (1912-92), Claes Oldenburg (b.1929) and Allan Kaprow (1927-2006). His best known works were The Smiling Workman (performed at the Judson Gallery 1959), and The Car Crash (performed in the Reuben Gallery 1960).

Pop Art Assemblages and Mixed-Media Combinations

Around 1960, Dine began creating his first assemblages, in which he incorporated a range of 'found' materials. During the same period he started on his best-known works - mixed-media combinations of paintings or sculptures, to which he attached everyday items, such as clothes, kitchen appliances, household materials, scrap paper, and so on. Some of these ideas developed into an early form of installation art.

In 1962 Dine's work was included in the ground-breaking exhibition "New Painting of Common Objects", curated by Walter Hopps at the Norton Simon Museum. Other participants included, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Edward Ruscha, Robert Dowd, Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, and Wayne Thiebaud. Seen as the first significant exhibition of Pop Art in America, it unveiled a style of painting that fundamentally altered the nature of modern art. Why? Because it was the first type of art to be accessible to Joe Public, rather than just the elite. It relied on instantly recognizable images of everyday or mass-consumer items, or images of celebrities in film, music or politics. For example, see also: Andy Warhol's Pop Art (c.1959-73).

Dine himself continued to incorporate a range of personal and domestic objects in his paintings throughout the 60s, including ties, shoes, basins, toothbrushes - see, for instance, Child’s Blue Wall (1962, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY). Another of his works, His Shoes Walking on My Brain (1960), consisted of a primitive painting of a face with a pair of shoes affixed to the forehead. He also employed objects from the arts, such as paint-boxes, colour-palettes and brushes, and other tools - see, for instance, Five Feet of Colorful Tools (1962, Museum of Modern Art, NYC). In 1964 he started using a picture of a man's bathrobe, taken from a newspaper advertisement, as the basis for a recurring self-portrait: see, for instance, Self-portrait next to a Coloured Window (1964, Dallas Museum of Art). This was an example of one of Dine's trademark techniques: repeating the same image over and over, until it because associated exclusively with Dine. (Another Dine image is the heart.) To some extent this type of subjectivist approach has set Dine apart throughout his career from other artists. Thus, even though he was part of a Neo-Dadaist group that created the Happenings, he didn't progress to Conceptual art; even though he was then associated with Pop, he didn't embrace Pop's deadpan style, or the later purity of Minimalism. On the other hand, during the late 1970s and 1980s, he was identified as a forerunner of Neo-Expressionism and the new style of figure painting. In addition, during the 80s he began to spend more time on sculpture.

Exhibitions, Awards and Collections

In 1984 the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, staged an exhibition of his work entitled "Jim Dine: Five Themes". In 1989 the Minneapolis Institute of Arts showcased "Jim Dine Drawings: 1973-1987". In 1994, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as a full Academician. In 2004 the exhibition "Drawings of Jim Dine" was held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Works by Dine are in many of the best American art museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.


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