Dine, Jim
born:  1935 Cincinnati, Ohio

The greatest influence on his work, Jim Dine once admitted, was his grandfather, who owned a hardware store. From the age of nine to eighteen, Dine worked there as a clerk, selling housepaints, tools, and plumber's equipment. The color tables displaying the range of paint tones struck the young Dine as "sheer jewel lists", and he was fascinated by the juxtaposition of tools with respect to the floor or to the air. Confrontations with artists Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg, in 1995 in New York, and later with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, helped point him the way to the linkage of life and art he envisaged. The mundane objects Dine now began to employ in art were primarily the tools which had so impressed him as a boy. For instance, he would take a saw, hang it on a nail in the canvas, and confront this real object with painted renderings of it, likewise suspended from real nails. Dine's concern was to jolt our habitual perception of the outside world, but also to redefine the relationship of art to reality. A juxtaposition of objective and aesthetic realities is also seen in Pleasare Palette. Pure and mixed colors have been applied in mostly circular strokes, sometimes in several layers, evoking the way that paints are mixed and jumbled on a palette. Occasionally the paint has been squeezed direct from the tube, or stippled with a sponge. In many places, especially towards the bottom, the paint has been allowed to form runs. To increase the tangibility of the surface texture, bits of paper, canvas, and plexiglass were cemented to the canvas. The only precisely defined shape on the palette is the flesh-colored heart. The lower part of the palette turns out to be transparent. At the top, a suggestion of a cloudy sky seems to reveal a view of the outside world, which calls the objective nature of the palette into question. The visual representation of the pleasure of artistic activity is only one side of this painting. An insight into another side was provided by Dine himself, when he said that the canvas was the last point of contact with non-reality. For him, this non-reality was part of the special mystery intrinsic to painting. By concentrating on the unreality of the canvas or painting surface, he saw an opportunity to raise the sphere of the trivial to the status of art, and at the same time, to deal with issues of identity, especially that of the identity of an object with its depiction. Thus Pleasure Palette indeed confronts us with several levels of meaning, and of perception. This toying with shifting levels of reality points up Dine's penchant for Surrealism. As in Rene Magritte's work, Dine's representations of images within the image evoke manifold strata of reality. Yet while Magritte emphasizes the enigmatic and strange to create an awareness of the illusory nature of conventional concepts of reality, Dine accepts the manifold nature of reality and the reciprocal effects of its levels on one another as givens. The Surrealist element is much more obviously present in Dine's enigmatic sculpture Angeis for Lorca. The articles of clothing might allude to the equipment required by an actor in his work, or indeed by every human individual in daily life. The work was executed in 1966, thirty years after the death of Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), Spanish poet and dramatist, who was brutally murdered by the Falangists during the Spanish Civil War. The year 1966 also marked the inextricable involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War, and the rising tide of protest this set off.