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Jim Dine's Glyptotek Series of Extraordinary Drawings on View at the Morgan Library
Jim Dine (b. 1935), Glyptotek Drawings, 1987–88. Charcoal and pastel on plastic sheet, 17 1/8 x 13”. Promised gift of the artist to The Morgan Library & Museum. Photograph courtesy of PaceWildenstein. © 2011 Jim Dine / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Jim Dine's series of extraordinary drawings inspired by Greek and Roman sculpture and sourced primarily at the Glyptothek Museum in Munich, Germany receives its first New York showing in a new exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum. The forty works on paper, known as the Glyptotek Drawings (1987–88)*, are crucial to understanding Dine's career, as they were instrumental in launching his ongoing engagement with the art of the ancient world. The drawings—a promised gift to the Morgan from the artist— are on view from May 20 through September 4.

Dine first visited the Glyptothek in 1984 and was motivated by the works he encountered there to create a book of Heliogravure prints to house, in his words, "my Glyptothek." Later, in his studio, he produced drawings from sketches done at the museum and from photographs, postcards, and catalogues, incorporating ancient works from other museum collections as well. The entire suite of forty drawings forms a single work. Dine has said, "I think each individual drawing could stand alone, but as a single work all forty make a narrative about learning from the ancient world." 

"The Glyptotek drawings are superb in their imaginative transformation of classical subjects and exhibit the vitality we have come to associate with the art of Jim Dine," said William M. Griswold, the Morgan's director. "To see all forty together is to experience afresh the appeal to the artist of the ancient world. The Morgan is delighted to show them as a group for the first time in New York, and we are deeply grateful to Mr. Dine for the generous gift of these important works to the Morgan's collection."

The subjects of the Glyptotek series include ancient busts, full-length sculptures, statuettes, fragments, and reliefs. Some, such as the Barberini Faun, the Boy with a Goose, and the Wounded Trojan from the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina, are well known. Dine says he was drawn to the imperfections of the sculptures that reveal the passage of time—chipped noses, missing limbs, irregular surfaces. Most of the subjects Dine has chosen are barely contained within the edges of his drawings, a device that both energizes them and adds a sense of monumentality. The artist has said, "I choose things that I think can come alive. I don't want to draw these things as dead objects, as stone. I want to observe them carefully, and then I want to put life into them and make them vigorous and physical."

In keeping with Dine's usual working method, the labor-intensive drawings combine a rich variety of media, including ink, charcoal, crayon, pastel, and marker applied in a broad, gestural style. The drawings evidence the artist's enthusiasm for materials and process. Occasionally he abrades the surface with etching tools or an emery board. He often rubs and spreads the material with an eraser or with his fingers, imbuing his subjects with an animate sense of fluidity. The strong interplay of light and shadow and the sweeping strokes that convey the physical engagement of the artist vests these images with a romantic feeling, making them haunting modern visions of the ancient world.

As Dine had planned to make Heliogravure prints from the drawings, he used translucent paper and plastic sheets as support. This unconventional surface allowed for the images to be transferred to etching plates; the prints were published in a 1988 limited edition entitled Glyptotek, with Dine's translation of a poem by Sappho. The exhibition features a copy of the book, also a promised gift of the artist to the Morgan.

A number of other drawings, which Dine produced in response to the Glyptotek Drawings, are also presented. Invited by the museum's director, Dine returned to the Munich Glyptothek in 1989; working alone at night in the galleries, he created a number of large-scale works. A selection from this series is included in the show. The following year, Dine traveled to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen where over a course of seven days he worked in the galleries to create Seven Views of the Hermaphrodite, which is also presented in the exhibition.

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