Jim Dine - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 14, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Pace Gallery, New York
    Malmberg International Art Bagersgatan, Malmö (acquired from the above in 1981)
    Private Collection, Europe (acquired circa early 1980s)
    Thence by descent to the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Pace Gallery, Jim Dine: Recent Work, November 6 - December 5, 1981, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “My work is totally about memory. And my memory is very good… My memory is my vast vault of experience.” Jim Dine

    This group of three works by Jim Dine, executed between 1962 and 1981, features the iconic themes and imagery central to the artist’s celebrated practice - the heart, tools and everyday objects. Drawing on personal experiences and natural intuition, Dine creates works that are at once intimate and playfully accessible. Dine has painted since he was a child, and after several years of study he no longer saw the value in a formal art education. The artist instead drew inspiration from museums and art journals, weaving elements of contemporary and historical artworks into his own practice, and was particularly inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines and Jasper Johns’ Flags and Targets. After moving to New York from Ohio in 1958, Dine was associated with the Pop movement, though his works lack the cool irony central to Pop and instead exude a raw quality, inviting the viewer to interpret what is being portrayed. Reflecting on this distinction in 1963, Dine explained: “Actually I’m interested in the problem and not in solutions. I think there are certain Pop artists who are interested mainly in solutions. I paint about the problems of how to make a picture work, the problems of seeing, of making people aware without handing it to them on a silver platter” (the artist, quoted in Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959-1969, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1999, p. 166). In addition to their distinct materiality, A Study/ Your Yard, Crescent Wrench, and Harry Mathews Skis the Vercour are each titled with poetic phrases, inspiring further contemplation.

    Executed in 1962, Crescent Wrench dates to the beginning of Dine’s career, a period marked by increasing art world recognition and intense creative development for the artist. Soon after moving to New York, Dine had a flurry of prominent solo exhibitions, starting with his first ever solo exhibition at Reuben Gallery, New York. After visiting the artist’s studio in 1962 where she saw his recent Tools paintings, Illeana Sonnabend gave Dine a show in Paris in 1963, and Sidney Janis Gallery began representing the artist in New York that same year. A number of Dine’s works were chosen for inclusion in the 1964 Venice Biennale, and due to the controversial lack of space in the American pavilion, a parallel exhibition was held at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Rauschenberg & Noland & Johns & Chamberlain & Dine & Stella & Oldenburg: The Biennale Eight, where further works were shown to truly showcase the talent of the artists, including Dine’s Crescent Wrench. Previously in the legendary collection of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Connecticut, Crescent Wrench stands as testament to the success of Dine’s early work, evidenced by this particular lot’s rich history.

    Crescent Wrench and Harry Mathews Skis the Vercour are exceptional examples of Dine’s mixed media works and his lifelong love of objects. His assemblages feature objects projecting from the canvas or dangling daringly close to the surface, blurring the line between reality and the painted space and creating a dialogue between the objects and the canvas. Though the works take on an almost surrealist quality, this pairing of seemingly disparate objects came naturally to the artist, as Dine described: “A piece of red paint is no different than a pencil if I use it, or vice versa. If I use a yellow pencil, I use a yellow pencil. If I use a piece of yellow paint, that’s another kind of object. They all have history” (the artist, quoted in Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959-1969, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1999, p. 27). The motif of the tool first appeared in Dine’s work in 1960 and harks back to his childhood days playing in his grandfather and father’s hardware stores. As such, his works incorporating tools are imbued with an autobiographical element and are an expression of the artist’s feelings and memories, rather than conceptual constructions. Fascinated by the inherent aesthetic beauty of tools, Dine described his visits to hardware stores to source materials for his paintings: “Sometimes I’d buy dozens of hammers. But also, I got so excited to find something that was inspiring. Not just because it’s some sort of phallic object in itself. It has been refined to be an extension of one’s hand, over the centuries, in a process of evolution. And it can inspire you that way. It has all this history” (the artist, quoted in Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959-1969, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1999, p. 132). Dine considers tools as an extension of one’s hand, and, as such, his assemblage paintings are at once a self-portrait and a visual representation of the act of making the work itself.

    The motif of the heart is central to Dine’s oeuvre, and is one that he has explored in depth throughout his career. Painted in 1981, A Study/ Your Yard is a stellar early example of this iconic image and was included in the artist’s solo exhibition at Pace Gallery, New York that same year. In the introductory text for the exhibition catalogue, Dine explained that the works were all executed in the spring and summer of 1981 during a period in which he was worried about a friend. A symbol of hope and compassion, he believed the familiar image of the heart could be particularly comforting, and described: “I’ve tried to depict in these works, years of joy and pain. In painting, I would not care to ‘illustrate’ those emotions. I would rather keep looking very hard and see if the paint itself can do the job. Actually I know it can” (the artist, quoted in Jim Dine: Recent Work, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York, 1981, n.p.). Rendered in exquisite vibrant and jewel-like hues, A Study/ Your Yard is imbued with the deeply personal emotions of the artist, and the gestural brushstrokes and dense impasto demonstrate Dine’s unique and celebrated application of paint.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Property of a Distinguished European Collector


A Study/ Your Yard

signed, titled and dated "A STUDY/YOUR YARD Jim Dine 1981" on the reverse
acrylic on panel
48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted in 1981.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018