new-york

“Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959-1969"

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

Many artworks were noisy in the ’60s—much clanking and buzzing in the galleries. Most of them are now silent. More memorable is a nonsound, the implied thud of ax into wood in several of Jim Dine’s dangerous-looking artworks. That echo has relayed itself to my ear over three decades, and I brought it back with me to “Jim Dine: Walking Memory, 1959–1969” at the Guggenheim.

Yes, there the hatchets were, whacked into the wood with a vigor that told you then, and tells you more emphatically now, that Dine was never suited (or bathrobed) for classification in the, to my mind, relatively benign Pop-art category. There is, it seems to me, a rage in this exhibition that serves it well—a rage and a sweetness that perform dialectical switches from paralyzed hammers to a children’s room. What makes the work direct and unguarded is the absence of the irony that hedges bets and opens space for commentators

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