In a new exhibition of his prints, Jim Dine brings to light never-seen-before drawings by Eastern Bloc artists.
A History of Communism is an extraordinary series of new prints by the seminal American artist Jim Dine made from lithographic stones found in what was previously a socialist art academy in the German Democratic Republic. Dine received the stones from his friends Sarah Dudley and Ulie Kuhle, lithographic printers based in Berlin. The recovered stones had been untouched for years and most intriguingly for the artist, still possessed 40 years' worth of preserved images drawn by students under the oppressive regime.
The anonymous drawings, remnants of a government and country that no longer formally exists, immediately appealed to the artist. The whole process of creating this exhibition took two and a half years, with Dine working on top of the original drawings, careful not to ‘subvert' the images he had inherited.
Dine began his artistic life as a performance artist with his ‘Happenings' in 1959-60, and was involved in the Pop Art movement in the 1960s before he left the ‘isms' behind. He is perhaps best known for his images of bathrobes, tools, and hearts; subjects which he continues to revisit. An added intriguing element about the History of Communism series is the coincidental similarity between Dine's own visual language of appropriated objects, such as brushes, tools, scissors and the iconic symbols of communism. The national emblem of the GDR for example was composed of a hammer intertwined with a compass, surrounded by a ring of rye.
By using his own motifs to frame, overlay or interfere with the original image, Dine doesn't just reinterpret, but also exerts control over the found lithographic images. A History of Communism ultimately echoes Dine's own personal history, (his family roots are in Eastern Europe: his Jewish grandparents were from Lithuania and Poland) and a review of his visual language and techniques to date.
Running at the gallery's second space is Jim Dine: Printmaker, a selection of recent editions and classic prints by the artist which tells the story of Dine's fifty years as a printmaker, featuring such works as Orange Birthday Robe (2010), Remembering Wallace Ting (2010), Tools and Dreams (1985) and 64 Blocks (2009). He made his first print at the age of seventeen and has since gone on to make prints in every conceivable medium. The artist himself says:
"The thrill for me is inventing, and adding or taking out, changing from one state to another. Handcolouring over a woodcut that's in black and white, then printing the block again over the colour that I painted on, then taking a rag soaked in turpentine and rubbing it over the print, then putting an etching over that. It's more than that though; it's the freedom to change when I want to and for the image to grow."
A History of Communism will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Steidl with text by Professor Gwen Sasse, Professorial Fellow in Politics, Nuffield College, Oxford University.
Both exhibitions mark the imminent gift of a substantial group of prints by Jim Dine in Alan Cristea's name to the British Museum, London.
Jim Dine was born in 1935, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He studied at night at the Cincinnati Art Academy during his senior year of high school and then attended the University of Cincinnati, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Ohio University, Athens, from which he received his B.F.A. in 1957. Dine moved to New York in 1959 and soon became a pioneer creator of ‘Happenings' together with Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Whitman.
Dine is one of the most significant artists of his generation and has had numerous solo exhibitions in museums in Europe and the United States. In 1970 the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organised a major retrospective of his work, and in 1978 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, presented a retrospective of his etchings. He is also one of the most naturally gifted printmakers working today and more recently he has had print retrospectives at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and Centre de la Gravure et de l'Image Imprimée, Belgium.
The Alan Cristea Gallery is the exclusive worldwide representative of Jim Dine's editioned work. To view available works by Jim Dine click here.