Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley)

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  • Condition Report

  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, The Pace Gallery, Jim Dine: New Paintings, February 5 - March 5, 1988, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    New England
    Work, Christian, work!
    Love’s labors before you go
    Carrying lights like the
    Stars are all out and
    Tonight is the night.

    -Robert Creeley (The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1975–2005, Volume 2, p. 242)

    An expressive patchwork of multicolored brushstrokes, Jim Dine’s Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley) from 1987 occupies the liminal space between dream-like realism and allover abstraction. Executed across three expansive canvases, the present lot pays homage to the artist’s dear friend and celebrated poet, Robert Creeley, whom Dine first met in 1967. Engaging with such legacies of Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley) nevertheless defies such easy categorizations. The present work debuted at The Pace Gallery’s 1988 exhibition Jim Dine: New Paintings, just a year after its creation. In his introductory essay published in the exhibition catalogue, Carter Ratcliff discusses how the artist’s paintings from this decade deftly hover between abstraction and realism. He writes, “Dine turns to the visible world for imagery, yet I compare him to an abstract painter because he arranges images of places and things with a freedom seen only in the wake of Pollock’s allover painting…Alloverness is anti-composition, so Dine’s work of the 1980s presents the astonishing spectacle of images well-drawn, hence primed for secure places in well composed pictures, yet floating free in allover fields…By accepting and reinventing alloverness, Pollock’s legacy, he insists that he is American” (Carter Ratcliff, Jim Dine: New Paintings, exh. cat., The Pace Gallery, February 5 - March 5, 1988, n.p.).

    In Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley), Dine explores such tension. A nimble investigation of surface, texture, and expression of line, the present lot nevertheless retains narrative, inviting the viewer to draw meaning from a seemingly random display of images and objects. In the left panel, Dine’s iconic heart pulsates with lush impasto and vibrant hues. A signature motif of the artist’s visual lexicon since the 1960s, the heart occupies a new vitality in Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley). Here, a heart within a heart gives way to an eye, luring the viewer deeper into this disquieting, yet eerily beautiful landscape. To the right, a headless statuette of Venus de Milo illuminates the center canvas. Rendered with striking Constructivist angularity, the figure is divided between a torso of bright primary colors and a dramatic chiaroscuro of black-and-white drapery. Ratcliff notes how the drapery engages the viewer with immediate difficulties: “This flurry of white lines hovers on the verge of abstraction. To see it thoroughly, one must drag it back to the realm of depicted things. Carrying out that rescue mission, the eye has a chance to become conscious of its own workings, to recognize its own willfulness, its insistence on meaning.” (Carter Ratcliff, Jim Dine: New Paintings, exh. cat., The Pace Gallery, February 5 - March 5, 1988, n.p.). As our eye travels further along the composition, a haunting mask reveals itself in the rightmost panel, confronting the viewer head-on with its empty eyes. Ultimately, these disparate motifs, each executed with expressive brushstroke and energetically sketched line, are skillfully united with a Surrealist, dream-like landscape that traverses all three canvases.

    In Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley), Dine retains an alloverness and anti-compositional quality that harken back to Pollock’s celebrated action paintings of decades prior. Indeed, by “reinventing alloverness”, Dine boldly asserts himself as both contemporary and American. Drawing inspiration from seventeenth-century still life and landscape painting, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, and the Pop Art of the 1960s for which Dine is perhaps best known, Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley) is an expert navigation of past, present and future.

  • Artist Bio

    Jim Dine

    American • 1935

    There's a considerable chance that any given piece of art with a heart has been made by Jim Dine. The artist has been prolific in his 60-plus years of producing works, from large-scale Pop-inflected paintings to emotive and lush collaged works-on-paper. Even while working within a childlike vocabulary, Dine has often been considered alongside rougher painters like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, and has surprised critics and audiences by flexing his muscles as an original generator of performance art "Happenings" or towering series of sculptures.

    Dine never fails to surprise at the auction block. His best at-auction works, stemming from the 1960s, often double their pre-auction estimates. His two highest results were $420,000 in 2007 and $418,000 more recently in 2015.

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Jim Dine

Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley)

signed, titled, inscribed and dated "Panel 3 Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley) Panel 2 ② Work, Christian Work! (after Creeley) Work, Christian, Work! (after Creeley) Jim Dine 1987 Summer Washington panel 1" on the reverse
oil on canvas, in 3 parts
85 x 182 in. (215.9 x 462.3 cm.)
Painted in 1987.

Estimate
$100,000 - 150,000 

Place Advance Bid

Contact Specialist
Sam Mansour
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1219
smansour@phillips.com

New Now

New York Auction 27 February 2019