Jim Dine is sometimes categorised as a Pop artist but a new exhibition of his prints at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International), shows the real breadth and creativity of his work. Jim Dine: A Life in Print an exhibition now on show until October 15, 2017 displays 100 works covering 45 years. The prints are part of a gift of 249 works donated by the artist to the NGV collection.
Dine originally became known as one of the group of New York artists including Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in the 1960s, although he never saw his work as ‘Pop’.
But the grouping is understandable, as Dine often chose everyday objects as his subject matter.
He produced, for example, a long series of prints of dressing gowns, originally derived from an advertisement.
At another level, he also produced extremely realistic drawings and prints of tools, such as hammers, saws, axes, wrenches and even nutcrackers.
This interest in mechanical processes, which also informed his precise attitude towards printmaking, stemmed from his upbringing: he was raised by his grandparents, who owned a hardware store.
However, as his work evolved through the 1980s he became more experimental, combining printing techniques to obtain certain effects and “interfering” (his word) in the printing process to produce one-off rather than replicated prints.
He also began to use innovative materials. Blue Crommely Gate (1982) is a lithograph printed with black and silver ink on a surface painted with synthetic polymer, for instance.
In this sense, Dine presaged the current trends of printmaking towards mono-prints and the fusion of commercial with fine art techniques.
Along the way, Dine drew on subjects as varied as skulls, birds and the Eiffel Tower (he is now based in Paris) for prints and drawings. He has also produced portraits and self-portraits, usually as lithographs.
Even in his eighties, Dine continues to create prints, as well as paintings and sculptures. He has, he says, a wealth of ideas for new works and no plan to stop creating.
Derek Parker, Guest Author Spotlight Stories, The Culture Concept Circle 2017