It wasn’t Duchampian, for me it was realism. I grew up with plumbers, in my grandfather’s store. I feel the mystery of tools, the romance of tools not having been designed, but evolved through the use of people’s hands. For that reason they are beautiful. They are also metaphorical. A screwdriver isn’t always a screwdriver, you know.

Jim Dine

Jim Dine

Works from the Collection of Gene Summers

Celebrated architect, artist and designer Gene Summers had a long friendship and artistic conversation with artist Jim Dine. The two first met in the 1950s in New York, where Dine was living and Summers was working for the offices of Mies van der Rohe on the Seagram Building. Summers became a major patron of Dine's work and amassed a large collection of his prints, paintings and sculptures; over the years, their artistic voices would inform one another on numerous projects. 

Gene Summers in front of Jim Dine's painting The Gate: Pershing Square. Photo: Collection Centre for Architecture, Montreal.; Dine working on reliefs for Summer's renovation of the Biltmore Hotel. Photo: Otis Art Institute.

Their most significant collaboration was the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, which Summers had begun renovations on in the late 1970s. In 1981, he commissioned Dine to create carpets, mirrors, and plaster and metal wall-mounted reliefs to decorate the hotel. The following year, Dine returned to California to create an eight-and-a-half by seventy foot painting (his largest work ever) for Summers' architectural firm offices in Newport Beach. The Gate: Pershing Square, which depicts a long row of towering, expressive trees, was imbued with a highly personal touch by Dine; Summers' first project he ever worked on for Mies van der Rohe (whom was monumentally influential to Summers) was building model trees for the entirety of his summer internship. The two remained close friends and colleagues until Summers' death in 2011.

Jim Dine b. 1935

For nearly six decades, American artist Jim Dine has evoked the power of symbolism, familiarity, and the search for self through a variety of mediums. A seeming critique on modern society, Dine places personal possessions and regular objects at the focal point of his prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures. His evolving imagery includes reoccurring themes such as heart shapes, bathrobes, tools, and the human body for which he is best known.

Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. His grandfather owned a hardware store where he worked throughout his youth later influencing his interest in ordinary objects. “I grew up with tools…I’ve always been enchanted by these objects made by anonymous hands,” he has stated. From 1953-1957 Dine studied poetry at the University of Cincinnati and later the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. After receiving his BFA from the Ohio University in Athens, GA, he moved to New York in 1958.

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