Jim Dine. A short biography

Jim Dine, Summer 2017, photo by Diana Michener © Diana Michener


Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935, Jim Dine moved to New York in the late 1950s. He produced the first memorable Happenings that made his name and that of a handful of fellow artists as some of the most incisive and radical players in young American art, in such now legendary venues as Judson Church and the Rueben Gallery in the course of the 1960s. Immediately after that, as he himself told us in a conversation ahead of the Rome exhibition, "I turned my back on that world of performances; I wanted to focus on my work as a painter and sculptor".

In the early 'sixties he produced his works with clothing and working tools, fully-fledged icons of contemporary visual culture: hammers, saws, hoes and axes, but also palettes, paint brushes, painter's spatulas and sculptor's chisels, or bathrobes, ties, shoes and braces – a short inventory of the things that make up his personal lexicon oozing with autobiographical significance.

Many leading critics, from Lawrence Alloway and Alan R. Solomon to David Shapiro, Marco Livingstone and Germano Celant, have devoted time to interpreting these presences, assigning them the function of "self-portraits", as indeed the artist himself suggests.

Jim Dine's artistic career is spangled with important awards and characterised by strong ties with Europe. In 1964 he was one of the artists invited to the celebrated exhibition in the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale that sanctioned the success of Pop Art at the international level. The Whitney Museum in New York commissioned his first retrospective in 1970, an event that has been followed by numerous other monographic exhibitions in museums all over the world, for example the show hosted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1999, or more recently the exhibitions organised by the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2004, by the Albertina in Vienna in 2016 and by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 2018.

Dine currently divides his time between Paris and the state of Washington.