Jim Dine began working on his bathrobe works (perhaps the most ubiquitous of Dine’s personal icons) during the summer of 1964 in East Hampton. Dine moved to New York from the midwest in 1959 and immediately became friendly with Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow, with whom he staged Happenings at the Judson Gallery. His use of common objects in his paintings—household tools, clothing, a kitchen sink—linked him with the Pop artists, but his work lacked the cool detatchment of most Pop Art. Indeed, the objects and images he used had deeply personal meanings for him—he worked in his family’s hardware stores as a young man and became enamoured of tools—and he retained the expressive use of paint. The combination of three-dimensional objects with painted surfaces has more in common with Rauschenberg’s combines than with Pop. Many of these early pieces bristle with Duchampian irony, yet at the same time reflect his personal passions and experiences.
Jim Dine spent summers in East Hampton in the 1960s.