NOT A POP ARTIST: Five Sides of Jim Dine

Jim Dine Rainbow- Matthews Gallery Blog

 

78-year-old artist Jim Dine has earned his place in any good post-war art history textbook. Picking exactly when to spotlight the artist must be a difficult task for scholars. The painter, sculptor, illustrator, printmaker, stage designer and performance artist has a way of diverging from the status quo and ending up at the forefront of new art movements. Just when things get established, he’s off on his own again.

A mixed media drawing  by Dine recently found its way to Matthews Gallery, so we took the opportunity to explore 5 manifestations of the chameleonic artist:

Fluxus Performer

Dine grew up in Cincinatti and got his BFA from Ohio University. When he arrived in New York in 1958, the art world was fixated on a type of work you couldn’t sell in a gallery. Some critics called them “wacky nightmares“, others described them as “a three-ringed circus with undertones of group therapy“, but Dine and his friends Claes Oldenberg, Allan Kaprow and John Cage dubbed their performance art pieces “Happenings”.

Happenings were designed to be as ephemeral and unpredictable as day-to-day life—but a little weirder. Battles between ballerinas and roller-skaters, reenactments of the Lincoln assassination, bikini stripteases and blue ice cream feasts were all passionately performed, often in rapid sequence. Whether you call it though-provoking or senseless, the Fluxus movement was one-of-a-kind. For Dine, all the world was a stage until…

Pop Progenitor

Jim Dine- Robe Diptych- Matthews Gallery Blog

 

Jim Dine, Red and Black Diptych Robe, 1980

In 1962, Dine’s paintings appeared alongside work by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha and others in the Pasadena Art Museum’s show New Painting of Common Objects. Curated by Walter Hopps of Ferus Gallery (site of Warhol’s first solo show), the exhibition was a seminal moment for a new movement: Pop Art.

Dine’s inclusion in the exhibition made perfect sense at the time. He was experimenting with serial imagery of familiar objects and symbols like bathrobes, hearts and tools. However, the artist’s expressive style and often tender subject matter clashed with the postmodern angst of other Pop progenitors. Soon enough, he was plotting his escape…

Modernist

Jim Dine- Paris- Matthews Gallery Blog

Jim Dine, Paris Smiles in Darkness, 1976

Dine moved to London in 1967, a strange decision considering his controversial history with the United Kingdom. A year before his solo exhibition at London’s Fraser Gallery was raided by police and the owner was fined for showing “indecent” images.

The artist defiantly continued to his relationship with Fraser and used his time in Europe to study the work of Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and other modernists. In 1971 he returned to the United States, ready to chart a new course…

Neo-Expressionist

Jim Dine- A Lady Sitting Drawing- Matthews Gallery Blog

 Jim Dine, A Lady Sitting, Mixed Media, 1975

Minimalism was en vogue when Dine arrived in New York, but the artist wasn’t interested. Instead he focused on figure drawing, refining his skills in various mediums and earning a reputation as a master draftsman. The mixed media drawing in our collection is from this period. A stunningly realistic face painted in oil is framed by confident charcoal marks and a glowing crayon color field.

In the years to come Dine’s figurative work would mark him as a founder of Neo-Expressionism, but critics could never assign the artist a particular label for long…

Modern Individualist

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Installation shot, Jim Dine: Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheets)

 Perhaps Dine’s artistic identity is best summed up by MoMA:

This commitment to a personally invested, image-dictated content and a continuing interest in the technical and expressive potential of every medium has characterized Dine’s work as a whole. Thus, Dine has often been out-of-step with the major movements of the post-World War II period and must be considered a modern individualist.

It’s a bit of a non-title, but Dine defies labels at every turn. The almost-octogenarian is still working his way into new chapters of art history.

Check out our website for more on Jim Dine, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for to-the-minute gallery news.

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SMALL TREASURES: Can’t-miss lots from our fall auction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Partridge Adams- Untitled (Landscape)- Matthews Art Auctions

We picked a particularly electrifying time in the art world to throw an auction. A triptych by Francis Bacon just flew off the block for a record-breaking $142.2 million, and the highest-valued Andy Warhol painting ever sold for $102 million. Our European, American and Southwestern Art Auction doesn’t feature price tags that are quite as high, but there are gems throughout the catalogue that would fit into the finest collection. The image above is a watercolor by legendary Colorado landscape painter Charles Partridge Adams (1858-1942) that measures just 13.5 x 17.5 inches and starts at $1,700 in our sale. Check out more lots below, and make sure to place your bids before the auction ends on November 17.

Jack Merriott- Untitled (Boat Dock Scene)- Matthews Art Auctions

Lot 16: Jack Merriott- Untitled (Boat Dock Scene) 
Starting bid: $1,700
Estimated value: $2,200-$3,200

English artist Jack Merriott (1902-1968) is best known for his travel posters commissioned by British railway companies that were displayed in train compartments. This watercolor shows the illustrator’s softer side. Click here to view the lot and register to bid.

Francesco Spicuzza- Children at Beach- Matthews Art Auctions

Lot 60: Francesco Spicuzza- Children at Beach
Current bid: $250
Estimated value: $350-$750

Francesco Spicuzza (1883-1962) was a talented lithographer and painter, and is one of the most prolific artists ever in his home state of Wisconsin. In this 13.5 x 15.5 in. gouache painting on board, three small figures frolic through the waves on a beach day. Click here to view the lot and register to bid.

Doug Higgins- Horse & Cowboy- Matthews Art Auctions

 

Lot 107: Doug Higgins- Horse & Cowboy
Starting bid: $850
Estimated value: $1,200-$1,750

Santa Fe, New Mexico artist Doug Higgins (born 1939) uses simple, elegant lines to depict a cowboy tending to his horse in this charcoal drawing. Click here to view the lot and register to bid.

Don’t forget to bid in our auction before 7 pm on November 17, and browse more highlights in our blog post START YOUR BIDDING: Colorful lots from our fall auction. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for gallery news.

The 10 Artists Who Changed Art History Forever, Pt. 2

To top off our list of art history’s most influential players (click here for part 1), we had to make some tough decisions. Would Monet still be known today if not for a fateful trip to the seashore with Boudin? Who had a greater influence on abstract expressionism: Pollock or De Kooning? Browse our choices and let us know if you agree or disagree in comments below or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Eugene Boudin, click the image to read the Matthews Gallery blog
Trouville, Eugene Boudin

 6. Eugene Boudin (1824-1898)

French painter Eugene Boudin grew up riding across the English Channel on his father’s steamboat between his home village of Honfleur and the city of Le Havre. Boudin’s mother put an end to the voyages when the young boy nearly drowned, and the family moved to Le Havre to open a picture frame shop. Perhaps it was these early years at sea—and that terrifying dip in the tumbling waves—that drove Boudin to create the small but dynamic compositions that would directly inspire Impressionism.

As a young man Boudin opened his own framing shop and showed work by artists such as Constant Troyon and Jean-Francois Millet. At 22 he started painting full-time, capturing coastal scenes with an impeccable eye for light and a keen interest in the social interactions of beach-goers. He was greatly influenced by the 16th century Dutch masters, and was one of the first French painters to work in the outdoors.

Boudin moved to Paris on a scholarship when he was 23 and soon met the teenage Claude Monet. Monet was working as a caricaturist on the streets of Paris, but Boudin convinced him to travel to Normandy and paint en plein air. In 1874 Boudin showed work in the first Impressionist exhibition alongside Monet’s pivotal Impression, Sunrise, which was painted in Le Havre and inspired the name of the new movement. Without Boudin’s encouragement, Monet may never have moved past charcoal.

Pissarro, click the image to read the Matthews Gallery blog
Two Women Chatting by the Sea”, Camille Pissarro

 7. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) 

Picasso and Matisse called Paul Cezanne “the father of us all”, but there’s always a mentor behind a master. Cezanne was heavily influenced by Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. “He was a father for me,” Cezanne said. “A man to consult and a little like the good Lord.”

Pissarro grew up on the island of St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies and attended a boarding school near Paris. In school he studied the French masters and excelled at drawing and painting. He moved to Paris in 1855 to apprentice with Anton Melbye and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. While Corot worked on his paintings in the studio, Pissarro insisted on painting en plein air and often finished works in one sitting.

The artist was criticized for his technique, which often exposed the rougher, less picturesque side of the French landscape, but his quick, intuitive methods attracted a small group of artists who would soon be known as the Impressionists. Pissarro became their patriarch, and was the only artist to participate in all eight Impressionist exhibitions. However, it was his switch to Neo-Impressionism at 54 and his great influence on Post Impressionism that landed him on this list. Pissarro’s impulse to look deeper into the landscape and trace every rough edge would inspire Seurat, van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne in their revolutionary explorations of perspective that would fracture (and eventually completely dissolve) the classical picture plane.

Pablo Picasso, click the image to read the Matthews Gallery blog
Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso

 8. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) 

Pablo Picasso is arguably the most famous—and prolific—artist of the 20th century. He created roughly 13,500 paintings and hundreds of thousands more prints, engravings, illustrations and sculptures over the course of his 75-year career. Though he’s famous for co-developing Cubism, it was his explorations into all corners of the plastic arts that made him so influential. No matter the medium or style, Picasso had a hand in radically changing it all.

The artist was born in Malaga, Spain. His father was a professor of art who began formally training his son from a very young age. By 16, Picasso had gained entrance to the prestigious Royal Academy of San Fernando. In the early 1900s he moved to Paris, where he met art collector Gertrude Stein and many of the most famous artists of the time. He started working with Georges Braque in 1909, and the close friends developed a style that pushed Cezanne’s explorations of multiple perspectives to new extremes.

Cubism encouraged artists to analyze objects and break them into thousands of pieces, and similarly shattered the art world into myriad Modernist movements from Futurism to Constructivism.

Pollock, click the image to read the Matthews Gallery blog
No. 5, 1948, Jackson Pollock

9. Jackson Pollock (1912- 1956) 

Jackson Pollock was called “Jack the Dripper” and “The Worst Living Artist in America” by the media, and a large slice of the public saw him as a reclusive drunkard who dealt the killing blow to order and sense in art. Sometimes when you’re drumming up an art revolution, things have to get messy.

Pollock grew up the youngest of five brothers in Arizona and California. He and his brother Charles moved to New York City in 1930, where he studied at the Art Students League and worked for the WPA Federal Art Project. In 1936 he took an experimental workshop on liquid paint that would later influence his famous drip paintings. Under the watchful eyes of collector Peggy Guggenheim, art critic Clement Greenberg and his wife Lee Krasner, who he married in 1947, Pollock would become the figurehead of the Abstract Expressionist movement and radically change the world’s definition of art.

Greenberg saw Abstract Expressionism as the final step in painting’s inevitable reduction to its most essential elements. There was an unmatched purity to Pollock’s atmospheric, gravity free color fields that only the eye could traverse. “Jackson was the greatest painter this country has produced,” Greenberg mused. Whether you agree with the critic or not, Pollock undoubtedly subverted figurative painting in an unprecedented way, and changed art history in the process.

Andy Warhol, click here to read the Matthews Gallery blog
Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol

10. Andy Warhol (1928-1987) 

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Austro-Hungarian immigrants. In third grade he developed Sydenham’s Cholera, a disorder of the nervous system that left him bedridden for months at a time. Isolated from his peers, the shy child became a voracious student of pop culture. Just a few years later he would build his own towering pedestal using the very figures and symbols that he pinned on his bedroom walls.

Warhol graduated from high school in 1945 and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology for commercial art. In 1949 he moved to New York City, where he worked in the publishing and advertising industries and got his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in pictorial design. In the 1950’s RCA records hired Warhol as a designer, where he pioneered innovations in various image-making techniques, most notably in screen printing. At the same time he was using similar processes—and subject matter—in his fine art, which he showed in galleries around New York. It was an approach to art that offended many critics at the time, who accused Warhol of succumbing to the homogenizing forces of consumerism.

This was Warhol’s true impact on art history: to show contemporary artists that they couldn’t avoid or ignore the foundational social changes affected by the mass media. Whether he was exploring identity, vanity, sexuality, fame or nothing at all, Warhol was molding the mercurial landscapes of Modern and Postmodern art.

Don’t forget to read part 1 of this series, and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest to let us know who you would choose!

Top 10 Art Movies, Part 2

Where can you find a character big enough to fit a charismatic actor’s personality? Try looking in the art world. Our final five selections for best art movie present unique challenges to bright stars, and they deliver.

Our picks:

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) ~ Rex Harrison and Charlton Heston were hot property when they signed on as Pope Julius II and Michelangelo for this Carol Reed classic about the painting of the Sistine Chapel. You can feel the actors sizing up each others’ Oscars in the battle of the wills between two of the Renaissance’s biggest egos, and it elevates both of their performances. We know that Michelangelo is destined to finish the monumental project, but we can tell the Warrior Pope means it when he screams, “Michelangelo will paint the ceiling! He will paint or he will hang!”

Basquiat (1996) ~ “No one wants to be part of a generation that ignores another Van Gogh,” says poet Rene Ricard (Michael Wincott) early in Julian Schnabel’s film. The statement is packed with the sort of hysterical hype that made Jean Michel Basquiat incredibly famous, and probably killed him. That’s not to say that Basquiat, played here with comfortable charm by acclaimed stage actor Jeffrey Wright, wasn’t a top talent. The film’s cast and crew is populated by people who witnessed firsthand the artist’s incredible rise and fall, from David Bowie, who briefly collaborated with Basquiat and plays a fantastic Andy Warhol, to visual artist Schnabel, who makes his directorial debut here. These folks know what made Basquiat and his work so special, and keenly understand the power and vanity of the world that devoured him.

Surviving Picasso (1996) ~ Newcomer Natascha McElhone plays Pablo Picasso’s long-suffering lover Francoise Gilot in this project that was blacklisted by both Picasso and Gilot’s estates. Perhaps that’s because the real draw is Picasso’s (Anthony Hopkins) string of fiery mistresses, played by some of Hollywood’s most beloved character actresses. While we’re meant to focus on the moody Gilot, it’s hard not to delight in the antics of Julianne Moore’s Dora Maar and Susannah Harker’s Marie-Therese Walter. It seems that surviving a relationship with the wayward artist was truly a matter of dispensing with sanity.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) ~ Colin Firth plays Johannes Vermeer and Scarlett Johansson his mysterious subject in this slow waltz of a film by documentarian Peter Webber. Vermeer takes notice of his new maid Griet and decides she’ll be his painting assistant and model, much to the consternation of his family. It’s a careful acting exercise for the leads, who must keep their growing interest in each other bubbling under the surface to make way for the film’s real star: the soft grey light of 17th century Delft. The visual vocabulary of Vermeer and his contemporaries rules here, with characters forever pulling back curtains and pausing by glowing windows. It’s simple, spare and gorgeous—much like the painting that inspired it.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) ~ A self-made billionaire, bored with riches and romance, takes up art theft in one of the best vehicles ever crafted for the suave Pierce Brosnan. Mr. Bond plays Thomas Crown, who singlehandedly steals a Monet from the MOMA and arouses the suspicions of beautiful detective Catherine Banning (Rene Russo). A very stylish, wonderfully silly game of cat and mouse ensues. One lesson you’ll learn: if you steal a painting, don’t hang it on your wall.

Click here to browse our first five selections, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more meditations on art.

Top 10 Art Books of 2012, Part 2

When the art and publishing worlds work in harmony, imagery merges with typography and innovative formats give us unexpected views of famous works. Through images and prose, our final five picks for 2012’s best art books gave us new eyes: 

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The Art Book, Phaidon- First published by Phaidon in 1994, The Art Book is as intriguingly tangled as ever in its 2012 edition. It’s an art history book made for creatives, its artists presented in alphabetical rather than chronological order. Seventy new artists join the pantheon, encouraging the crackling connections that only The Art Book could provoke. Where else would you find Duccio next to Duchamp or Manet in dialogue with Mangold?

cover of "always looking"

Always Looking: Essays on Art, John Updike- John Updike wasn’t an art critic, but the third, posthumous volume in his Looking series guides us through the crowds at notable exhibitions and along the arc of art history with signature elegance. The collection starts with Updike’s 2008 lecture on American art “The Clarity of Things” and includes 14 essays Updike wrote for The New York Review of Books and other publications.

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Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars, Camille Paglia- Paglia kicks off Glittering Images by declaring her intent to help the masses, hypnotized by technology and riddled daily with thousands of disconnected images, understand and appreciate art’s compelling historical sweep. You can’t trust the inflammatory culture warrior for a minute, but that’s what makes the proceedings so fun. Paglia picks 29 of her favorite artworks, from Egyptian funerary imagery to George Lucas’ “Revenge of the Sith”, and presents them as pinnacles of humanity’s artistic legacy. Her selections are mostly confined to the West and heavily weighted to the 20th century, but her arguments are entertaining whether you agree with them or not.

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The Art of Not Making: The New Artist/Artisan Relationship, Michael Petry- Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Murakami Takashi, Ai WeiWei. They’re some of the biggest names in contemporary art, but could you call them artists? Petry examines the Renaissance-old dependence between art and craft—and the questions of authorship that it raises—with images from 115 contemporary artists who don’t always have a hand in creating their work. The book’s five chapters are intriguingly organized by material, a nod to the industries that brought these objects into existence.

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100 Ideas that Changed Art, Michael Bird- Art historian and broadcaster Bird is quick to caution that his numbered list of artistic turning points, from “narrative” (#7) to “street art” (#94), is anything but concrete in its essential properties. “No sooner has an idea changed art that art reformulates that idea, allowing it to recognize itself,” he writes. This collection of 500-word essays is particularly fascinating for the playful lines it draws between modern and contemporary art and works of old. Bird doesn’t shy away from party tricks like comparing Byzantine icons with Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe images, and the results are charming for dilettantes and art experts alike.

Browse our first five selections here, and check out our Twitter and Facebook feeds for more insight.