Work of the Week – The Heart and the Wall (on 4 Sheets)

Monday, June 6, 2016


by Jason T. Perry
jim dine

This week’s Work of the Week is The Heart and the Wall (on 4 Sheets) by Jim Dine.

The heart is a universal symbol that is easily recognized, yet it can contain a mixture meanings: love, hope, pain and sadness. It all seems to be present in Jim Dine’s The Heart and the Wall.

Walking up the stairs in the East Wing in the Asheville Art Museum, Dine’s immense heart (89.40 x 69.5 in) hangs alone leaving viewers in a state of awe. The heart is made of four different pieces of paper which combine shades of blue, black, yellow and gray that bleed all over the pages. Dine constructed the piece in 1983 using his signature technique of color etching with power tool drypoint and sanding.

In a quote from Artsy.net, Dine describes his fascination with the heart.

“The figure is still the only thing I have faith in in terms of how much emotion it’s charged with and how much subject matter is there,” Dine stated.

Baltimore Museum of Art records Dine explaining that the heart is a familiar object that stands for a metaphor of loss or a stand in for personal pain. Dine surrounds his heart with darker colors which creates depth and shadow within the piece, but the inside of the heart contains lighter shades of blue, yellow and gray. Darker colors penetrate the border of the heart, but it does not engulf it. It seems Dine is explaining a deeper meaning of human emotion where one can be surrounded by pain and darkness yet still remain pure and hopeful inside.

 Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 16, 1935. His first respected work was in 1959 in his Happenings. Dine teamed up with two other artist and musician to create a chaotic art performance that was a contrast to the popular somber mood of expressionist. In 1962, Dine’s work was displayed alongside Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Dowd and others in the very first “Pop Art” exhibition in America. Dine is considered one of the founding members of the Pop Art Movement which fundamentally changed the nature of modern art, although he does not consider himself a “Pop Artist.” Dine has led a successful career as an artist and a poet, and his artwork has been displayed globally. A short documentary film was produced in 1995 titled Jim Dine: A Self-Portrait on the Walls that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

Dine has created many works of art symbolizing the heart in his career. One thing that makes The Heart and the Wall unique is how the details change the closer or farther away one gets to it.  The heart contains colorful dots scattered inside the heart, and when examined closely the viewer can see how many of the strokes run in different directions and how they contain different shades of the same color. The farther away one gets from the piece the more the blue stands out creating a deeper depth within the heart. Visiting The Heart and the Wall is a creative experience that will give you as much as the time you put into it.

Artwork above: Jim Dine, The Heart on the Wall ( on 4 Sheets). 1983, Color Etching and Power Tool Drypoint and Sanding (89.40 x 69.6in). 2004 Collectors’ Circle Purchase. Permanent Collection. 2004.24.03.63.