A survey of new prints by Jim Dine, one of America's most prolific artists, will be displayed at the Alan Cristea Gallery from 9 February - 11 March 2017. Poet Singing includes eight new, previously unseen prints depicting singing poets. Made over the past 12 months with master printmakers in Austria, Paris and the US, these works highlight Dine's status as a renowned poet, as well as painter and printmaker. The singing poets will be shown alongside works dating from 2013 to 2016, including a recent series of large abstract prints, as well as examples of Dine's continued fascination with Pinocchio and his reinvention of the iconic motifs of hearts, bathrobes and Venuses.
Dine's first meeting with poetry was through the work of Dylan Thomas, when aged nineteen, in 1954, his sculpture professor played a recording of the seminal Welsh poet. Dine cites the great American poets, Ron Padgett, Robert Creeley and Ted Berrigan, of the New York School as early inspirations. By 1959 Dine had moved to New York, quickly rising to prominence when he staged, alongside artists such as Claes Oldenburg and Robert Whitman, 'Happenings', forerunners of performance art.
Dine states "My most elaborate work, called 'Car Crash', was a cacophony of sounds and words spoken by a great white Venus with animal grunts and howls by me." To date, Dine has written more than twelve books of poetry.
The reflection of the self in his singing poets is also echoed in recent prints depicting Venuses, bathrobes and hearts, some of his most expressive motifs and enduring vehicles for his explorations of line and colour. These themes, particularly the bathrobes, began as stand-ins for the artist, which Dine calls 'autobiography through objects'. This subject continues with the inclusion of recent, large-scale depictions of Pinocchio, stemming from Dine's continued interest in Carlo Collodi's classic morality tale, The Adventures of Pinocchio. The story of Pinocchio, which Dine identified with as young boy, is also very much the story of Geppetto, the old man who brings the puppet to consciousness through his craft. Dine, now older, takes on this role of the maker.
For the past two years Dine has also been developing a major new body of work that encompasses a more abstract aesthetic. He has made large-scale, extensively hand-painted woodcuts, including A Million Kisses Poem (2015) and Cheval Blanc Poem (2015). These prints defy the traditional notion of what a print should be, with each one created using multiple plates, extensive physical intervention and additional hand work by the artist.
The new works in Poet Singing involve a plethora of techniques. Since the 1960s Dine has gone on to make prints in every conceivable medium, using printmaking with unequalled inventiveness and skill. Poet Singing exemplifies his approach to the medium and the exhibition will be a celebration of Dine's enduring relationship and fascination with printmaking, which has continued since he made his first print whilst a teenager at school in the late 1940s.