New York

Jim Dine

Janis Gallery

Some hitherto disagreeable, but relatively submerged aspects of Jim Dine’s art have come fully to the surface in his latest show at Janis. I refer to his incapacity to edit (if not control) the vagrant products of his output, and also to a rather persnickety cynicism that demeans only itself. The first means that undeveloped or throw-away ideas sully a production that once had a lyrically serious drive; the second indicates a kind of thumbing the nose even at his own irony––which makes one wonder why any work was worth the effort. At their wittiest, his new images rise to the level of cast aluminum benches with boots for legs, and axes with inordinately long handles. All this is “reductive” in an art earlier distinguished by rather complex ambiguities and double entendres. Neither the inanity of his themes, nor their bald dependence on Surrealism would have been so tiresome had there been some unifying principle to give them personal inevitability. As it is, the show is a spectacle of gratuitous motifs––cast feet and hands, plywood hearts, bitchy-looking, vaginal collages––lying around trying to fill up all that vast Janis space. The deflation of the novelty of the combine painting has not been countered––or not yet, at least––by any increasing intensity in his sculptural realization. Always loose stitched, Dine’s art has deplorably come apart at the seams.

––Max Kozloff