The Heartfelt Art of Jim Dine

Book of Jim Dine paintings from Pace Gallery
JIM DINE: PAINTINGS, by Vincent Katz, Pace Gallery, 2011.

Jim Dine (b. 1935) is a modern American master. He is an artist of both great breadth and depth. He is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, photographer, and poet. He came of age on the heels of the Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and is often associated with the development of Pop Art in the early 1960s, although he does not consider himself a Pop Artist. "Dine has said: “Pop art is one facet of my work. More than popular images, I’m interested in personal images.” (1) 

Dine's work diverges from the work of his contemporaries, well-known Pop Artists Andy Warhol, and Claus Oldenburg, because whereas their use of everyday objects in their artwork was cold and distant, Dine's approach was much more personal and autobiographical. The objects he chose to render in his images meant something to him personally, either through memory, association, or metaphor. His later work also draws from classical sources, as in his Venus de Milo sculptures, infusing his art with the influence of the past. His work has succeeded in reaching into and evoking the personal in such a way as to express what is universal.


Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. He struggled in school but found an outlet in art. He took classes at night at the Art Academy of Cincinnati during his senior year of high school. After graduation from high school, he attended the University of Cincinnati, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and received his BFA in 1957 from Ohio University, Athens. He enrolled in graduate study in 1958 at Ohio University and moved to New York City soon after that, quickly becoming an active part of the New York art scene. He was part of the Happenings movement, performance art that took place in New York between 1958 and 1963, and had his first solo at the Reuben Gallery in New York in 1960.

Dine has been represented by the Pace Gallery since 1976 and has had hundreds of solo exhibitions around the world including major solo shows in museums in Europe and the United States. This has included the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. His work can be found in numerous other public collections throughout the world in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Israel. 

Dine is also a thoughtful and insightful speaker and teacher. In 1965 he was a guest lecturer at Yale University and artist in residence at Oberlin College. In 1966 he was a visiting critic at Cornell University. He moved to London with his family in 1967, living there until 1971. He currently lives and works in New York, Paris, and Walla Walla, Washington.

Artistic Development and Subject Matter

Jim Dine's calling in life has been to create art, and his art, although much of it of seemingly random everyday objects is, in fact, personal and autobiographical, allowing him to express his emotions and feelings: 

"Dine incorporated images of everyday objects in his art, but he diverged from the coldness and impersonal nature of pop art by making works that fused personal passions and everyday experiences. His repeated use of familiar and personally significant objects, such as a robe, hands, tools, and hearts, is a signature of his art." (2) 

His work has included a wide range of media, ranging from drawings to printmaking, to etchings, paintings, assemblages, and sculpture. He is most well-known for his iconic series of hearts, tools, and bathrobes, but his subjects have also included plants, which he loves to draw, animals and figures, puppets (as in his Pinocchio series), and self-portraits. (3) As Dine has said, "The images I use come from a desire to define my own identity and make a space for myself in the world.” 


When Dine was a very young boy, he would spend time in his grandfather's hardware store. His grandfather would let him play with the tools, even when he was as young as three or four years old. The tools became a natural part of him, and he has had a love for them ever since, inspiring his series of tool drawings, paintings, and prints. Watch this video from Richard Gray Gallery of Dine speaking about his experience growing up and playing in his grandfather's hardware store. Dine speaks about "being nourished by a well-made tool that is an extension of the maker's hand."


The heart has been a favorite shape for Dine, one that has inspired millions of pieces of art in all different mediums ranging from painting to printmaking to sculpture. As simple as the well-known heart-shape is, Dine's heart paintings are not nearly as simple. In an interview with Ilka Skobie from ArtNet, Dine said when asked what was his fascination with the hearts, "I have no idea but it’s mine and I use it as a template for all my emotions. It’s a landscape for everything. It’s like Indian classical music -- based on something very simple but building to a complicated structure. Within that you can do anything in the world. And that’s how I feel about my hearts.” (4) Read the full interview here.

Jim Dine Quotes

“What you do is about your comment on the human condition and being part of it. There’s nothing else.”(5) 

“There’s nothing as pleasurable for me as making marks, you know, of drawing, using your hands. The hand has some kind of memory." (6) 

"I always need to find some theme, some tangible subject matter besides the paint itself. Otherwise I would have been an abstract artist. I need that hook... Something to hang my landscape on."(7) 


  • Skobie, Ilka. An Interview With Jim Dine, LONE WOLF, Skobie
  • Richard Gray Gallery
  • Jim Dine’s Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheet): A Documentary, from Getty Museum (3:15)
  • Jim Dine’s Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheet): A Documentary, from Getty Museum (7:50)
  • Jim Dine: Hearts from New York, Goettingen, and New Delhi 21 April 2010 - 22 May 2010,,-Goettingen,-and-New-Delhi
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Marder, Lisa. "The Heartfelt Art of Jim Dine." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Marder, Lisa. (2023, April 5). The Heartfelt Art of Jim Dine. Retrieved from Marder, Lisa. "The Heartfelt Art of Jim Dine." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).