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  • Jim Dine : the alchemy of images by Marco Livingstone ; with commentary by Jim Dine
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Jim Dine : the alchemy of images by Marco Livingstone ; with commentary by Jim Dine

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New York : Monacelli Press, 1998. Hardcover. 352 pages : illustrated ; 31 cm. A nice clean copy with unmarked pages and firm binding.

Over four decades, American artist Jim Dine has produced more than three thousand paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints, as well as performance works, stage and book designs, poetry, and even music. His art has been the subject of numerous individual and group shows and is in the permanent collections of museums around the world. This lavishly illustrated volume, full of fresh insights and incorporating short essays by Dine himself, is the most comprehensive study ever published on his work.

Author Marco Livingstone, who has curated two Dine retrospectives and written about his art on numerous occasions, has documented and analyzed the evolution of both the man and his work. The book opens with a brief overview, from the experimental works of the late 1950s to the mature period inaugurated by Dine's return to life drawing in the mid-1970s, a development characterized by a consistent search for and development of an individual, highly personal voice. Livingstone then turns to a discussion of themes and practices that illuminate the art in unexpected ways.

Dine's earliest art—Happenings and an incipient form of pop art—emerged against the backdrop of abstract expressionism and action painting in the late 1950s. Objects, most importantly household tools, began to appear in his work at about the same time; a hands-on quality distinguishes these pieces, which combine elements of painting, sculpture, and installation, as well as works in various other media, including etching and lithography. Through a restricted range of obsessive images, which continue to be reinvented in various guises—bathrobe, heart, outstretched hand, wrought-iron gate, and Venus de Milo, among others —Dine presents compelling standing for himself and mysterious metaphors for his art.

The human body, conveyed through anatomical fragments and suggested by items of clothing and other objects, emerges as one of Dine's most urgent subjects. Making use of the language of expressionism and applying it to themes concerning the artist as a creative but solitary individual, Dine ultimately asserts himself as a late-twentieth-century heir to the romantic tradition. The tightly woven and exceptionally well-documented text, in conjunction with a wealth of images, brings to life the work of a remarkable artist throughout the course of a long and inventive career.