Jim Dine's Hot Dream—A Collection of Journals
Hot Dream, a new acquisition in the Ingalls Library, is a collection of 52 journals—one for every week of the year—by Jim Dine. Dine, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a prolific and accomplished artist who works in a wide range of media. In Hot Dream, Dine, who began his career in the 1950s, revisits many of the themes that have held great meaning for him over the years.
Dine has drawn and painted commonplace items such as hand tools and bathrobes so often that they have become his personal trademarks. Dine also takes an intensely personal approach to botanicals, the heart, and the character of Pinocchio. Writing about his habit of selecting the same objects over and over, Dine says, "for the most part, I draw things that I've drawn before because I've chosen these objects as mine . . . the state of wanting to draw something, for me, is a way to capture it and that's a primary emotion for me."1 Commenting on the propensity of Dine to gravitate to previously used motifs, the critic Graham Beal notes that Dine was different in this respect from other artists of his generation, rejecting their detachment and "almost random method of selecting motifs." 2
The character of Pinocchio, a favorite of Dine's, is the subject of two of the journals, or books, as Dine calls them. He appears in 17 other Hot Dream volumes. Dine wrote about his fascination with the wooden boy in his memoir, Boy in the World: "When I was six years old my mother took me to see the Disney Pinocchio film. It has haunted my heart forever!3 . . . Many of my other motifs are like landscapes for me, but Pinocchio is like a garbage can full of emotions. Every painting or sculpture comes out differently and I never know beforehand what the final result will be."4 As a source of inspiration, Dine writes that Pinocchio "is always with me."5 The title of book 33, "Santa Hell," gives one some idea of Dine's dark treatment of the beloved figures of Santa and Pinocchio—page after page of Pinocchio juxtaposed with various Santa figures (some painted black).6 Book 37, "Images of the Boy," is filled with images of Pinocchio. While the images in this book are brightly lit and colorful, Dine's treatment of this character again conveys a dark undercurrent, a menacing presence.7
Dine's love of plants is especially evident in the lush, free-form botanical drawings in book 32, "The drawing lesson no. 2."8 In the catalog Jim Dine: Flowers and Plants, Dine explains his emotional attachment and fascination with plants: "The reason I've made plant drawings all my life is because I'm in love with the plant. I draw, and it's a way to express my feelings at that moment, and also a way to express my feelings about the plant. Both things."9
Poetry and essays fill many of the volumes in Hot Dream. Contributing poets include Ron Padgett and Vincent Katz, as well as Dine himself. Dine recounts personal stories in "Clarence," (book 6) and "I knew about Greeley" (book 18).10 Essays about his work are included in "Two Talks" (book 11) and provide valuable insight into Dine's approach to drawing: "What I did in the drawing Childhood, is what I do in all my drawings. I go to my childhood and look into that dark place. That excites me."11 Dine does not try to block strong emotion, especially anger, from influencing his work. He writes: "As I have often said, anger is part of my medium. I like to walk alongside of it . . . I have anger and impatience, and I use them both."12 Dine discusses his method of drawing: " I always have to elaborate, unlike Matisse. I love building up, erasing, losing it, bringing it back, taking it away. I trust my method of not trusting. I want the drawing always to be better . . . it's the corrections that are interesting. They are the history of each drawing."13
The snapshots that comprise book 44, "Cottonwood Days and Night," provide the reader with a look into Dine's personal life. A marked departure from the visual content of the other books, Dine has photographed his family and friends, and appears in many of the images as a doting grandfather.14 We are reminded that he is more than a famous artist and that his family and friends are near and dear to him.
The last journal, book 52, is a series of self-portraits. Here Dine writes about his work on Hot Dream, revealing he had thought about the project for two years before he began, "then finally I got down to putting the books together. My method, as in all my work, is the use of collage, painting and drawing, and correcting; coupled with my writing and my untouched photographs."15
Roberta Smith, in a review of the exhibition accompanying the release of the journals, wrote in the New York Times that "the show provides an unusually raw, first-hand experience of the inner demons that drive artists, and other people too."
Several works by Dine are in the Cleveland Museum of Art collection. These include the self-portraits Dine in Black Grease (2001.245) and Woodcut Self-Portrait (1976.132). Examples of his bathrobe drawings include Bathrobe (1985.161) and Yellow Robe (1985.118). An example of Dine's sculpture, Cleveland Venus, can be seen in its permanent home in front of the Carl B. Stokes Federal courthouse in Cleveland.
Notes1. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 11, .
2. Graham W. J. Beal, Jim Dine: Five Themes (New York: Abbeville Press, 1984), 14.
3. Jim Dine, Boy in the World (a memoir) (Gottingen: Steidl, 2009), .
4. Dine, Boy in the World (a memoir), .
5. Dine, Boy in the World (a memoir), .
6. Jim Dine, Hot Dream (Göttingen: Steidl, 2008), Book 33, [54—55].
7. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 37, [36—37].
8. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 32, .
9. Jim Dine, Jim Dine: Botanical Drawings (New York: Pace Wildenstein, 2006), 3.
10. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 18, [20—21].
11. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 11, .
13. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 11, .
14. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 44, [88—89].
15. Dine, Hot Dream, Book 52, [24—25, 59].
Beal, Graham, William John. Jim Dine: Five Themes 1984. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center; New York: Abbeville Press, 1984.
Dine, Jim. Hot Dream (52 Books). Göttingen: Steidl, 2008.
Dine, Jim. Botanical Drawings. New York: PaceWildenstein, 2006.
Dine, Jim. A Boy in the World: (a memoir). Göttingen: Steidl, 2009.
Scotti, Roland. Both light & grave, understandable & mysterious: about Jim Dine's Hot Dream/52 books. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008.
Smith, Roberta. Art in Review—Jim Dine. Accessed online. The New York Times, Feb. 6, 2009. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DEFD6173BF935A35751C0A96F9C8B63