Do you have personal icons? Images that you repeat in your work? I know of one quilt artist who includes a bird in every piece she does. Sometimes the bird is the subject, sometimes it is almost hidden amongst the main elements of the piece. Do you repeat the same subject over and over? I was fascinated with June’s painting class exercise of painting the same subject 11 (I think) times. I find myself returning to the same things, but also sometimes thinking, “Oh, I’ve done that–need to move on.” If you have a personal icon, is it something that has great personal appeal as a thing, or an image, or is it something you have adopted simply for the purpose of exploration, improvisation on a theme, a thread through the work?
I rather like the idea of taking a somewhat mundane object and using it over and over, which, to my mind, might help get one past the idea of art being about the subject and into the idea of art being about the art.
Jim Dine, known in the ’60s as a Pop artist repeated several subjects many, many times.
Some of Jim Dine’s Hearts:
Some of Jim Dine’s Bathrobes
(this one, above, is called “Bill Clinton Robe”)
About Jim Dine
After graduating from Ohio University in 1957 with a B.F.A. degree, Dine (b. 1935) began his career with five happenings in the early 1960s during the Pop Art movement in New York. However he returned to painting retaining a theatrical quality in his work in the dramatic placement of actual objects, either attached to the painted surface or placed before it to set up an interaction among the elements. Although he has been called a pop artist, his aesthetic is far more within the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, Dada and Neo-Surrealists. The objects he uses are either personal, such as his own clothes, or newly purchased, as in the case of new shovels or wrenches. Nor is the object presented as an entity; instead, Dine places it within a painterly environment that has personal connotations for him. In the mid-sixties, he made a number of free-standing cast aluminum and, in the following decade, he began producing works in series, representing three-dimensional objects such as the robe, tools, or heart that have become his own icons.