Two Saws, Jim Dine

Jim Dine (American, born 1935) 

Two Saws, 1974 

Mixed-media with collage on paper 

Purchase, National Endowment for the Arts grant and matching funds, 1975 (4347.1) 

Dine moved from hometown Cincinnati to New York in 1959 and quickly gained attention as one of the pioneer creators of the chaotic performance art “Happenings” together with Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Whitman. 

In the early 1960s Dine started incorporating items from everyday life in his work, particularly tools, which had a personal, autobiographical significance for him. Growing up in Cincinnati Dine spent a lot of time in his family’s hardware store and has said that his earliest memories are of being around hand tools. For Dine tools also provide a “link with our past, the human past, the hand”. 

Dine has extensively explored themes or subjects throughout his career. This drawing/collage is one of many works in which he used tools as his central focus (another Dine tool work is hanging elsewhere in this gallery). The two saws here abut and form a strong symmetrical axis. Dine has augmented the drawing with cutout images from magazines of a tomato and a green pepper. These or other collage elements were torn off and repositioned (or eliminated), leaving scars in the sheet of paper which enhance the overall expressionistic feeling of the work.