I’ve done this all my life. I never thought I was going to be anything else but an artist. I never had a choice. It’s all I can do.
A painter, sculptor, photographer, illustrator, performance artist and poet, Jim Dine is arguably one of the most prolific artists working today. In 2009 he took TateShots on a tour of his exhibition at Pace Wildenstein, New York, a labyrinthine show that touched on nearly every aspect of his life.
This book was called Santa Hell, and it’s photographs I took of these Santa Clauses that move to Jingle Bell Rock, and… but you’ll see what I mean. I painted them, and put, surrounded them with puppets in this kind of Christmas nightmare. I’m Jim Dine, 73 years old. We’re on 25th Street in Manhattan at Pace Gallery, and I’m building an exhibition that is, that relates to and features a project I’ve been working on for a year – 52 Books. I drilled a hole in each book and hung them so that people can enjoy the book. This is a book about tools, but it’s photographs of tools. I grew up with tools. I came from a family of people who sold tools, and I’ve always been enchanted by these objects made by anonymous hands. This one is called… this is an example of really going into my head and not being verbal about why I did it. A lot of the books are based on my handwriting. A lot of the books… I’ve come to believe my handwriting, in my handwriting, and that it is an extension of my draughtsmanship. This is a long poem I wrote for the exhibition that’s at the Getty villa in Malibu now. This is the exact…a facsimile of my… this is the paper I tacked on the wall to write the thing with. So I wrote it with a marker and Wite-Out™ and corrected it that way. And here, this is a wall of just out-takes from the books, that I just covered the wall with. The way I write poetry is mainly by tacking a big sheet of paper on the wall and writing it on the wall, on the paper, and then correcting with gesso. I go across with gesso, let it dry, take another word in, or I take a box cutter, cut out the word, put in a new word. So it is a collage method too. And this room I devoted to photographs of my Pinocchio sculpture, and a sculpture of Pinocchio. When I was a child I saw the Disney film. I was six years old. It really stayed with me; it was indelible, if you were a little boy and your nose was going to grow if you lie, and I was lying, and you know, it’s a metaphor for art. It’s, you know, this guy is given a talking stick, and through trials and tribulations after he carves a puppet, the kid becomes human, so you’re bringing something to consciousness. It’s just what art is doing. The whole exhibition is fuelled and driven by my ability to look, and my ability to draw and to observe closely. I’ve done this all my life. I never thought I was going to be anything else but an artist. I never had a choice. It’s all I can do.