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September 9, 2008

Jim Dine: Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheets)

At the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa
October 30, 2008 – February 9, 2009

“My whole intention in working with the antique is to
leap across generations to be one with art.
That’s very important to me.”
       -Jim Dine

LOS ANGELES—When artist Jim Dine first saw three sculptures in the Getty Museum’s antiquities collection—the life-size group Poet as Orpheus with Two Sirens (about 350–300 B.C.), Statuette of a Dancer (300–200 B.C.) and Statuette of a Dancer Playing the Lyre (200–100 B.C.)—he had an emotional connection with the Greek terracotta figures. Inspired by the beauty of their form and the dynamism of their poses, Dine retreated to his studio in Walla Walla, Washington, and envisioned his own interpretation of the poet and the dancers.  Dine’s newly created installation of sculpture and poetry will be on view October 30, 2008 through February 9, 2009 at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Jim Dine: Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheets), the first contemporary art project at the re-opened Getty Villa.

“Since the Getty Center opened in 1997, we have been actively engaged with contemporary art through special installations and our temporary exhibition program, with a special interest in looking at how artists draw inspiration from works in our collection,” says Michael Brand, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Jim Dine’s work at the Getty Villa not only brings a contemporary artist’s perspective to our antiquities collection, but it demonstrates the persistence of the ancient world in the way objects created in antiquity continue to inspire us today.”

Dine is an artist who epitomizes the fluid nature of contemporary art through his experimentations with all sorts of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, performance, and poetry. Those less familiar with Dine’s work might be surprised by his relationship with antiquities, but according to the artist he has had “a great romance with the ancient world.”  In addition to his long-running interest in the Venus de Milo, an iconic figure of antiquity, he has pursued several drawing projects involving ancient sculpture at the Munich Glyptothek. Thus, it is not surprising that Dine was inspired by works of ancient art in the Getty’s collection, and was moved to create his own variations.

“When I saw those three figures at the Getty, I knew this was for me and I didn’t question why it was for me, I just felt it,” Dine explains. “And that’s what I do, that’s how I work. I didn’t work from the piece directly, but it’s the idea of the piece that inspired me.”

Jim Dine: Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheets) will be comprised of larger-than-life wooden variations of the dancers and a monumental sculpture of a head whose likeness is that of the artist.  Inscribed on the walls in Dine’s distinctive handwriting will be a poem created in response to the ancient figures and their rebirth in the artist’s own work.  Altogether, the multimedia installation marks an exciting new step in Dine’s on-going “romance” with ancient art.

The process Dine used to create the sculptures in this exhibition is almost as fascinating as the works themselves.  He began with detailed three-dimensional scans of the terracotta dancers in the Getty’s collection.  These scans were then used to write programs for a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine located at the Walla Walla Foundry in Walla Walla, Washington.  By manipulating the computer programs, Dine and his colleagues at the Foundry had the CNC machine carve large-scale versions of the original figures out of wood with whatever changes in form the artist desired. Once the figures were carved, they were then moved to Dine’s nearby studio warehouse and finished using tools such as rasps, power sanders, and knives, as well as a thick acrylic paint that provides their final, colorful surface. Dine’s sculptural process will be featured in a new video, which will be available in the GettyGuide Room, in the Museum Theater, and on the web. The Jim Dine video was made possible through the generous support of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Villa Council.

Jim Dine: Poet Singing (The Flowering Sheets) is curated by Rainer Mack, manager of education for the Getty Museum. 

Jim Dine
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935, Jim Dine lives and works in New York City, Paris, and Walla Walla, Washington. He studied at the University of Cincinnati and the Boston Museum School prior to receiving his B.F.A. from Ohio University, Athens, where he later enrolled in their graduate program. He moved to New York City in 1958, where he had his first group (1958) and solo (1960) exhibitions.  Dine instantly became an active figure in the New York art world where he created and staged many of the first “Happenings,” along with artists Allan Kaprow, Lucas Samaras, Red Grooms, Robert Whitman, and Claes Oldenburg. Since his first solo exhibition in 1960, Dine’s paintings, sculptures, photography, and prints have been the subject of over 220 monographic exhibitions worldwide.

Jim Dine has been the subject of five major surveys and retrospectives since 1970, including The Drawings of Jim Dine, a major traveling retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2004); Jim Dine: Walking Memory 1959–1969, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY (1999), which traveled to the Cincinnati Art Museum; Jim Dine, Isetan Museum, Tokyo, and Museum of Art, Osaka (1990–91); Jim Dine: Five Themes, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1984-85), which traveled to the Phoenix Art Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Akron Art Museum, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo,  and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and Jim Dine, the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY (1970).

In addition, Dine’s work is in numerous public collections worldwide including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone-machi, Japan; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

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Rebecca Taylor
Getty Communications

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