COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Jim Dine’s Pinocchio Series

Jim Dine as Gepetto, Pinocchio Series

Spending a week in Göttingen as Gerhard Steidl’s guest was already a delightful treat. Being assigned by my host to Jim Dine’s “Pinocchio” suite was the icing on the cake. Not that the rest of the guesthouse is not welcoming or aesthetically intriguing. Who would pass the opportunity to stay in a room that showcases Joseph Beuys’s art, or Jim Dine’s Bird series, Karl Lagerfeld’s large scale photographs, or Günter Grass’s prints?

It was my host’s wish that brought me to this highly elegant, fashionably sleek suite where Jim Dine’s 36 prints of his Pinocchio series reign. Dine remains somewhat marginalized in the US, where critics love to hate him, but enjoys a much warmer reception by the European public who appreciates his art and has shown great interest in collecting his work.  (The Alan Cristea Gallery of London, along with Pace Editions in New York, is the co-publisher of all of Dine’s prints.  The Alan Cristea gallery is the sole European distributor of his works.)

Last November, in one of my strolls through Le Palais Royal, I realized that the French Ministry of Culture has awarded Jim Dine a place of distinction among contemporary printmakers. But I also reminded myself that the French are much more committed to technique in art making as opposed to the prevalent direction of most American art schools, which is based almost exclusively on concept.

Jim Dine’s work encompasses both: great attention to the process of making art and equal weight to the ideas expressed. But even that is a problem with art critics who like compartmentalizing artistic production. They also like pre-assigning meaning to an artist’s work according to the manufactured narrative that compartmentalization affords them. Dine is hard to pin down. He paints, creates wooden & bronze sculptures, and is committed to printing  (lithography and etching). He also loves poetry and incorporates it in his visual work.

Jim Dine's lithography exhibited by the French Ministry of Culture

Jim Dine’s lithography exhibited by the French Ministry of Culture

The culmination of Dine’s abilities, proclivities, and interests has taken form in his Pinocchio series.  The prints, symmetrically framed and arranged in a double row at eye level around the rooms’ white walls, are recounting Pinocchio’s story, a metaphor of the artistic process itself. I found the gathering of characters most pertinent to accompany my own inquiry into Steidl’s artistic and mechanical processes.

© Thomaï Serdari