Jim Dine

The House (Heart)

1983

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 1778 x 1778 x 356 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented anonymously 1984
Reference
T03849

Summary

The motif of the heart began appearing in Dine's work in the mid-1960s, often in his theatrical designs, or in collages which drew upon Picabia's L'Oeil cacodylate, 1921 (Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris). The heart evokes childhood notions of romantic love as well having more sensual connotations. Dine said about them: 'The hearts were a prime object. Yes, the shape! It means a lot of things. It doesn't just mean love, it's anatomical, it's all kinds of things. It refers to all kinds of anatomy, too. But is also was a way for me to hang painting onto something.' (quoted in David Shapiro, Jim Dine, New York 1981, p.204)

In 1971, following his move to Vermont, Dine began a series of large paintings with a heart occupying the entire canvas, against which were juxtaposed tools and objects. He shortly thereafter abandoned the heart motif, not returning to it for a decade. He explained:

These pictures were made this spring and summer when I was deeply concerned for a comrade who was trying to recover from a severe mental disorder. They come from that part of the body that is one's 'studio of the soul'... I have sometimes used a familiar theme (like the heart) to try and exorcise my dear friend's demons and to lose my way in its comforting paths and foliage.
(quoted in Jim Dine Recent Work, exhibition catalogue, Pace Gallery, New York 1981, [p.3])

This wall-mounted bronze relief is one of two heart sculptures of 1983, the other being a painted bronze The Heart on a Rock, produced in an edition of six. Both works refer to Dine's earlier pieces Five Chicken Wire Hearts (John Peto), 1969 (destroyed) and Nancy and I at Ithaca (Straw Heart), 1966-9, which was originally part of a larger sculpture made in 1967.

The House (Heart) is one of an edition of three bronze casts. The original clay model had embedded into it the following tools and objects: a brick, two conch shells, two axes, two hammers (one claw hammer), a saw handle, a clamp, a spanner, a mallet and a bronze Venus de Milo. Hand marks were also impressed. Dine stated that tools are 'the link with our past, the human past, the hand' (Jim Dine: Five Themes, exhibition catalogue, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 1984, p.102). Dine's family owned a hardware store in Cincinnati and his grandfather thought of himself as a carpenter. Tools had featured in many of his earliest works, and were included in a number of the heart paintings of 1971. They became the focus of his work for several years in the 1970s.

Further reading:
Michael Edward Shapiro, 'Methods and Metaphors: The Sculpture of Jim Dine' in Jim Dine Sculpture and Drawings, exhibition catalogue, Pace Gallery, New York 1984, p.10, reproduced (also reproduced p.35 and in the original clay state p.29)
Peggy Moorman, 'Jim Dine - Sculpture', Artnews, vol.83, May 1984, p.161
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, pp.140-1, reproduced

Terry Riggs
January 1998

Catalogue entry

Jim Dine born 1935

T03849 The House (Heart) 1983

Bronze 1778 x 1778 x 356 (70 x 70 x 14)
Cast inscription ‘2/3A' on bottom tip of heart
Presented anonymously 1984
Prov: Waddington Galleries 1984 from whom purchased by anonymous donor 1984
Exh: Jim Dine, Waddington Galleries, March 1984 (17, repr.)
Lit: Michael Edward Shapiro, ‘Methods and Metaphors: The Sculpture of Jim Dine' in Jim Dine Sculpture and Drawings, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York 1984, p.10 repr. (also repr. p.35 and in the original clay state p.29); Peggy Moorman, ‘Jim Dine - Sculpture', Artnews, vol.83, May 1984, p.161

T03849 is a bronze relief in the shape of a heart and is one of a series of paintings and sculptures on this theme which Dine has been making since 1970. His first depictions of the heart shape occurred in collages in which the heart was the most prominent image within a work including a number of other elements. These collages referred back to Picabia's ‘L'Oeil cacodylate' 1921, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris (repr. Maria Llusa Borràs, Picabia, 1985, fig.402 in col.). When Dine moved to Vermont in 1971 he made a series of large paintings in which the heart occupied the entire canvas against which were juxtaposed tools and objects. Dine abandoned the heart motif in 1971 until he reverted to it in 1981. He has explained:

These pictures were made this spring and summer when I was deeply concerned for a comrade who was trying to recover from a severe mental disorder. They come from that part of the body that is one's ‘studio of the soul'... I have sometimes used a familiar theme (like the heart) to try and exorcise my dear friend's demons and to lose my way in its comforting paths and foliage (quoted in Jim Dine Recent Work, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York 1981, [p.3]).


The paintings of that period are sombre and thickly impastoed and make reference to landscape. According to Graham Beal, the heart also ‘evokes not only childhood notions of romantic love but also the sexual organs. As such it is a sacred and profane love "and strikes a primitive chord"', (‘Something to Hang Paint on', Jim Dine: Five Themes, exh.cat., Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Feb.-April 1984, p.36).

‘The House (Heart)' is one of two heart sculptures which Dine made in 1983, the other being a painted bronze, ‘The Heart on a Rock' (repr. Jim Dine Sculpture and Drawings, p.34) made in an edition of 6. Both works refer back to ‘Five Chicken Wire Hearts (John Peto)' 1969 (destroyed, repr. ibid., fig.8) and ‘Nancy and I at Ithaca (Straw Heart)' 1966-9 (repr. Jim Dine: Five Themes, p.37 in col.) which was originally part of a larger sculpture made in 1967 and which developed out of designs Dine made for A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Actor's Workshop of San Francisco. Both ‘The Heart on a Rock' and ‘Nancy and I at Ithaca' are floor standing works whereas T03849 is a wall mounted relief.

T03849 is a bronze cast, in an edition of three, of a sculpture made originally in clay into which were embedded the following tools and objects: a brick, two conch shells, two axes, two hammers (one claw hammer), a saw handle, a clamp, a spanner, a mallet and a bronze Venus de Milo. Hand marks were also impressed. According to Schapiro the inclusion of tools, a well known theme of Dine's, ‘anthologises the making of sculpture'. Moorman writes that ‘The House (Heart)' is ‘a capsule retrospective... a symbol of Dine's lasting affection for his subjects and his past'. Dine himself has stated that tools are ‘the link with our past, the human past, the hand' (Jim Dine: Five Themes, p.102). Dine's family owned a hardware store in Cincinatti and his grandfather thought of himself as a carpenter. Tools had featured in a number of the heart paintings of 1971 and in 1973 became the focus of his work for several years. They had been used only sporadically between 1963 and 1970. The conch shell had appeared in paintings of 1978 and the Venus de Milo became a theme for a number of paintings, sculpture and prints from the same year onwards.

The surface of T03849 is craggy and suggestive of landscape. Although Dine often uses power tools on bronze casts he did not employ them on this sculpture. Dine began making bronzes in 1980. Previously he had made sculptures in aluminium. Since 1983 most of his sculptures have been cast at the Bronze Aglow Foundry in Walla Walla, Washington but ‘The House (Heart)' was cast at the A & A Foundry in London. T03849 was cast in five sections which were subsequently welded together. Plates have been added to the back by the artist to strengthen the joins. The artist does not remember the origin of the title but states that he liked it. This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.140-1