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Jim Dine

Two Big Black Hearts

two large black hearts with trees in the background

Jim Dine. "Two Big Black Hearts". 1985. Bronze. 12' x 12' x 33" each. Lent by Hamilton Arts Inc.

Over the past five decades, Jim Dine has created a diverse body of work that ranges from vibrant, large-scale paintings to bronze sculptures and assemblages of found objects. He is well known for his pioneering role in the Pop Art movement and Conceptual Art “Happenings” during the 1960s. A patient of psychoanalysis since 1962, Dine is interested in memories and the construction of identity. His sculptures often include autobiographical references and incorporate recurring motifs, such as hearts, clothing, and tools, which may evoke childhood recollections.

Dine leaves his personal mark on Two Big Black Hearts both symbolically, by the choice of objects, and physically, by his hand imprints on the sculpture’s surface. Cast from the same mold, these 3,200-pound sculptures serve as nearly identical versions of the same heart, differentiated only by subtle details that resulted from the casting process. Like Dine’s other multimedia work, Two Big Black Hearts are bronze casts of commonplace items, such as hands, faces, seashells, hammers, and other tools. The repetition of these items transforms them into vehicles of personal expression that evoke emotion. For Dine, the tools reflect childhood memories of the hardware store owned by his grandparents; the heart functions as “a sign that one can care, that there is a constant presence of feeling.” Dine has returned to the heart motif repeatedly throughout his career as a template for explorations in color, form, and texture. Its ubiquity provides Dine with a condensed visual vocabulary to explore how images with pre-established associations can be manipulated and combined to create new narratives.

Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935, and attended evening classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1953. He received his BFA from Ohio University in 1957. That year he moved to New York City and befriended Pop artists, like Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenberg, who participated in the Happenings with him. His involvement in these performances helped shape his artistic philosophy, which emphasized the power of artistic process to elevate the ordinary. Dine has had numerous solo exhibitions at major venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1970), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1984-85), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1999), and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2004). He lives and works between New York, Paris, and Walla Walla, WA.

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