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The Old Professor (from “Oo la la” portfolio) by Jim Dine

The Old Professor (from “Oo la la” portfolio) by Jim Dine

Petersburg Press

Colour Lithograph


Edition Size: 75

Sheet Size: 15 x 27.5 inches

Reference: Jim Dine Prints: 1970-1977. Exhibition Catalogue. Williams College: Williamstown, 1977: pp 50-51, no. 25.


Condition: Excellent

Details — Click to read

Lithograph on handmade Hodgkinson wove paper; the full sheet, watermarked with the signatures of Jim Dine and Ron Padgett and initials of the publisher Petersburg Press. Signed by Jim Dine lower left; signed by Ron Padgett and numbered 75/75 lower right. From the Oo La La portfolio of 15 lithographs printed offset from zinc plates, drawn by both artists. Produced in collaboration with Ron Padgett and published by Petersburg Press, London.

Bright orange leaps up like flames, or swaying grass, over which hovers a large-eyed bee sketched in black and orange. Over the fire-red in neat handwriting Ron Padgett’s poem: “The old professor tapped his finger against his forehead. “I want you to consider the proposition that there is supernatural activity going on in the intellectual space between any two words. Example: two words. It is as though… as if each word, with its richness of connotation and suggestion, multiplied by our unconscious notions (true and false alike), were two sides of a chasm within which the echoes and ricochets approach and then surpass infinity.” At the center of the composition, Dine has partially bisected the expanse of flat orange and frenetic brushstrokes, conceptualizing each color field as a word: and while the text describes the spiritual chasm between two words, a whimsical bee floats easily over the pair. Written with the neat penmanship of a school lesson, floating atop an exuberant burst of color, Ron Padgett’s verse is pleasantly at odds with its own profundity.

The late 1960s and early 70s saw Dine’s interest in literary pursuits grow: he illustrated and published a book of his own poetry entitled Welcome Home Lovebirds (Trigram Press, 1969), and he provided drawings and photographs for the publications of Padgett and other New York School poets: Ron Padgett’s translation of Apollinaire’s “Le Poète Assassiné” (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968), Ron Padgett and Tom Clark’s Bun (Angel Hair, 1968), and Fragment, by Ted Berrigan (Cape Goliard Press, London 1969). Cape Golliard also published a stylish monograph in 1970 reproducing photographs and drawings titled “The Adventures of Mr and Mrs Jim and Ron”.

In 1966, police raided a Jim Dine exhibition in London at the Robert Fraser Gallery. Fraser was charged under the Obscene Publications act and Dine was found to be indecent. After a meteoric rise to artistic prominence in New York, Dine had tired of the city’s intense art scene, and this incident was the final straw. He moved with his family to London in 1967 and began producing work at Petersburg Press, where he would become a longtime collaborator. As a student, Dine had cited the great American poets, Ron Padgett, Robert Creeley and Ted Berrigan, of the New York School as early inspirations, and in London, he eagerly took the opportunity to work with Padgett at Petersburg Press.


The Artist

Jim Dine

Jim Dine is an American pop artist who was born in Ohio in 1935 and was known for his painting, drawing, sculpting and printmaking. He is considered to be a part of the Neo-Dada movement, a style that opposed the emotional expressions of Abstract Impressionism and instead, denies aesthetics by using mundane subjects and focusing on performance. Dine was first recognised by the art industry when he displayed ‘Happenings’ a type of performance art in collaboration with the musician John Cage. In 1959, it was exhibited over six days in an environment or installation in New York City’s Reuben Gallery, where features of light, sound, projects and viewer participation all played a part in the display.

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