Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and performance artist Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati in 1935. Along with Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein and George Segal, he is universally considered as one of the leading lights of the generation that won renown in the late 1950s and early 1960s as part of the Neo-Dada and Pop movements. Like those others, Jim Dine developed an eminently personal artistic vocabulary. A limited number of images—trees, tools, bathrobes, hearts, gates, palettes, Venus de Milo—run through his work, like multiple pathways to the imagination. These motifs, repeated time and time again, but always in different ways, have punctuated his oeuvre and made it exceptionally distinctive. Among the artist’s most cherished images is the heart, or rather the symbol of the heart, the one used to signify love.
Created in 2011, this sculpture features the two most common symbols in Jim Dine’s work: the heart and everyday objects (in this case, tools). In this three-dimensional sculpture, the artist uses saws, hammers, pliers and rakes of every colour to build a person-sized heart. He uses these common objects to weave a complex structure with a universal shape. The influence of pop art in Dine’s work can be seen in his bright, warm colours and repetition of a motif (here, tools).
He first started using the heart motif in the mid-1960s, often in his collages. For the artist, the form evokes childhood memories as well as his unconditional love for his wife. The tools and objects found in his art, meanwhile, remind him of his family’s hardware store. Dine has also admitted to a fascination with objects crafted by anonymous hands.