Jim Dine, “History of Black Bronze I”

Jim Dine, “History of Black Bronze I”

  • <p>Jim Dine, History of Black Bronze I, 1983.  Photo by Mark Menjivar.</p>
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Jim Dine, Augustus History of Black Bronze I, 1983.

American, born 1935

Born and raised in Ohio, Jim Dine moved to New York in 1958 and established himself in the art world with theatrical Happenings performed in chaotic, artist-built environments. During that time, Dine began experimenting with assemblages and incorporating common objects into his paintings, drawings, and prints. In this tradition, he became one of the pioneers of Pop art. A natural reaction against the previous generation’s elevated aspirations for abstract expressionism, Pop artists often chose ordinary everyday objects as their subjects, presenting them with detachment and irony while adding an acceptance of the emblems of our consumer society and “low-brow” popular culture. Dine painted many images of bathrobes, neckties, hearts, and tools; some of his compositions incorporated actual objects, a decision that marked the beginning of Dine’s interest in sculpture.

By the late 1960s, Dine turned his attention from the ordinary objects used during his brash Pop art days to ones that had increasing personal significance. His composition of objects on a table may refer to Alberto Giacometti’s (1901–1966) surrealist Table (1933), which features objects that refer to Giacometti's other sculptures. Dine’s History of Black Bronze updates that idea to the 1980s taste for art historical appropriation. He chose objects ranging from icons of classical art to the ordinary tools that became symbolic subjects for the artist, a resonance that stems from Dine's time working in his family’s hardware store.

Dine’s choice of title and material make further reference to history, specifically the radical transformation of human society and art from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. As an alloy consisting primarily of copper, bronze starts out as reddish gold and weathers to a bluish green or brown. To become black, bronze requires human intervention; for millennia, bronze casters had applied chemicals to create a black patina over the surface of bronze statues. The monochromatic surface and size uniformity of the objects on the table elevate the mundane hammer to the level of appreciation warranted by the classical Venus de Milo.

  • <p>Jim Dine, History of Black Bronze I, 1983.  Photo by Ben Aqua.</p>

Location: Bass Concert Hall Lobby, Third Floor

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