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Jan Herman

Jan Herman

Posted: November 15, 2007 10:18 AM

Overlooked and Undersung


It is a delicious irony of life in New York to ride the subway during the morning rush hour with Dave Frishberg's "Quality Time" playing on your iPod (listen here). Another irony, not so delish, is to miss what's in front of your eyes. Like walking past the art gallery in the CUNY Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue without seeing the show.

Talk about quality time, Jim Dine Selected Prints, 1996-2006 gives you as much as you please. It's in the heart of Manhattan (between 34th and 35th Streets) and a helluva lot less crowded than the subway. Cheaper, too. Admission is free. Oh, did I say Dine's prints are a wow?

Among other things, they offer an eyeful on the not small matter of prevarication, which some would submit is the issue of our time. Have a look at the portraits of Gepetto's boy. There are a handful, and they come in all sizes.



Pinocchio may not resemble the current occupant of the White House. His nose is longer, for one thing. He's also made of wood, although that's a debatable difference, and he pays for his lies. Most of all, Dine personally identifies with Pinocchio. I doubt he feels that way about our prevaricating prez.

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From "Pinocchio / Jim Dine," a portfolio of 36 lithographs plus five signed and numbered plates (sheet size: 22 x 16 inches), published by Steidl in a limited edition of 35 copies

In any case, precisely why crowds are not packing the gallery is a mystery to me. Maybe it's because the art critics have overlooked it. There hasn't been a single review of the show, despite the fact that Dine is an acknowledged master. Some of the prints have been exhibited elsewhere -- in Minneapolis, for instance -- and you know how New York critics hate to be second in line.

Or maybe it's because Dine's work sells, thank you very much, but usually not at auction, and so doesn't go public with humongous prices. Indeed, maybe that's the most important reason.

Dine is among the most commercially successful artists in the Pace Wildenstein stable -- which is saying a lot, given the stable. But without humongous prices to attach to his name, Dine is old news, or worse, no news. No matter how much they may deny it, the critics are artworld functionaries. Money impresses them maybe more than art.

Yes, this is a rant.

For a serious discussion of the show, go to Jed Birmingham's Q&A with Jim Dine at the Bibliographic Bunker.

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"Red Enamel Pants," 2000. (Photo-silkscreen, woodcut, and hand painting with enamel and charcoal. 50 x 33 inches. Edition of six.) © Pace Editions, Inc. and Jim Dine.

Anyway, have a look at another of Dine's Pinocchios. He calls it "Red Enamel Pants." I call it "What Is He Staring At?"

Full disclosure: I'm a part-time media consultant to the CUNY Graduate Center, which operates the gallery.

Here's what else you need to know: Jim Dine Selected Prints, 1996-2006 is on exhibit through Dec. 8 in the Amie and Tony James Gallery at 365 Fifth Ave. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 6 p.m. (212) 817-7394.