A contemporary painter and assemblage artist, Jim Dine has created gestural, sometimes heavily impastoed work with a style that hearkens to Abstract Expressionism. A major early influence was Jasper Johns from whom he learned methods of random juxtaposing of real objects shadowed by painted copies. Since the mid-1970s, his work has reflected his skill as a draftsman and has focused more on traditional pictorial problems rather than leading-edge improvisation.
He was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and studied there at the Art Academy and the University of Cincinnati from where he earned a B.F.A. in 1958. In 1959, he moved to New York City where he established a studio for the major part of his career, although he was artist-in-residence for short periods including Williams College in Massachusetts, Oberlin College in Ohio, and Cornell College in New York state.
Early in New York, he was part a spontaneous performance artist group, "Happenings," that included Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow, and Claes Oldenburg. His pieces from that time, some with flashing lights, were part of the assemblage of events staged by those artists regardless of whether or not they had an audience.
In the following years, many of his canvases had big letters and objects such as hatchets and saws that suggested viewer participation. His work is represented in most of the major art museums featuring contemporary American work including in New York the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum. A special exhibition of his work, "Jim Dine Walking Memory," was held at the Cincinnati Art Museum in October, 1999 to January 2000.