Jim Dine

A Day Longer

At 85 Jim Dine, the iconic figure of American contemporary art, is unveiling the results of almost three years of work in a new show at Galerie Templon. Partially produced at his Parisian studio during lockdown, the exhibition A Day Longer takes us on a thrillingly immersive journey into a body of work that is bolder and more introspective than ever.

Jim Dine – A Day Longer, TEMPLON Paris, 2021
Jim Dine – A Day Longer, TEMPLON Paris, 2021

Jim Dine adorns the classicism of the gallery space on Rue Beaubourg – entirely redesigned by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte this summer – with a sumptuous show featuring six monumental paintings on wood that pulsate with colour and energy. On the surface, beneath the thick layer of paint mixed with sand or charcoal, lies a collection of miscellaneous tools, dismantled and put back together. They form various haunting figures, including Prophet in the Storm and Twisted Lyre, as well as subtly ironic poetic universes, as illustrated by Red Laughing and The Tongue. In this world, the tool – whether hammer, saw, axe or pliers – plays a role that stretches far beyond the practical. It harks back to the hardware store owned by Jim Dine’s grandfather, who gave him his first taste of the joy of creating. And, for Jim Dine, it is a language in itself – a language expressing infinite possibilities.

As poet and critic John Yau explains in the exhibition catalogue, Jim Dine’s practice, although traditionally associated with Pop Art, actually inhabits the place where happenings, which he pioneered along with various other artists, and abstract expressionism meet.

Both these movements “incorporate the improvisation process.” This could well be why the artist feels the need to “complicate his painting by adding various tools to the canvas along with reclaimed wood, boots, indistinguishable cans and other rubbish.”

This taste for improvisation and the freedom it produces are central to his latest sculptures, At Dunkerque,anthropomorphic totems created from objects assembled in his studio. Cast in bronze and hand-painted in vivid colours, they create an astonishing impression of vitality, heralding a new direction in Jim Dine’s work; for the first time ever, Jim Dine has included bronze and aluminium masks in his creations. The enigmatic figures who haunt the joyful, unruly surfaces of his paintings crop up in the more intimate series of Me pieces that round off the exhibition. His fifteen small self-portraits, doused in layers of painting like endlessly worn and scuffed palettes, reveal the depths of the artist’s vulnerability. Impassive, free of the need to produce a likeness, these obsessive and cathartic portraits compel the viewer to question the ultimate goal of art. As Jim Dine writes: “When you paint every day, all year long, then the subject is essentially the act of working.”

Prophet in the Storm


The artist

Born in 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim Dine lives and works in Paris, Göttingen (Germany) and Walla Walla (USA). Pioneer of the happening and associated with the Pop Art movement, he has always followed a unique path. He experiments extensively with different techniques, working with wood, lithography, photography, metal, stone and paint. The tool and the creative process are just as important as the finished work. The artist explores the themes of the self, the body and memory, drawing on a personal iconography made up of hearts, veins, skulls, Pinocchio and tools.

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