Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935, American artist Jim Dine studied at the University of Cincinnati and the Boston Museum School, and earned a BFA in 1957 from Ohio University. He then moved to New York and befriended like thinkers such as Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein. In 1962, Dine’s work was included in the groundbreaking and influential exhibition New Painting and Common Objects at the Norton Simon Museum; the show also included Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Thiebaud. He turned to sculpture in the early 1980s, when he created works based on the ancient sculpture Venus de Milo.
Double Silver-Point Robes is one of many robe paintings by Dine. The artist produced many series of works focused on familiar and personally significant objects such as tools, robes, and hearts. Dine’s robe paintings were first shown at Sidney Janis gallery in the fall of 1964 – this is one such example – and are among the most recognizable images to have emerged from his long and illustrious career. This piece features two canvases, each with a man’s robe detailed in lightly etched lines. Each has a block of wood in place of the figure’s head. A knife protrudes from one block, and attached to the knife is a plumb line, which adds an element of motion to the piece. The robes represent the male counterpart of his Venus, the maternal figure and symbol of fertility, and seek to realize an identity, both personal and existential—in fact Dine identified many of the robe paintings as “self-portraits,” because he visualized them as an extension of himself.