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Taylor Zakarin

Jim Dine (American, born 1935)
The Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1987-88
77 x 28 x 29 inches
Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection


If you’re a frequent visitor at NorthPark Center, then you probably have seen Jim Dine’s The Field of the Cloth of Gold in quite a few different locations this year. Today, the work is on view right by Macy’s leading towards NorthCourt, greeting many of our visitors as they head towards the AMC theaters or the NorthPark Cafés.

Dine is very closely associated with the Pop art movement of the early 1960s, like quite a few of the artists we have on view at NorthPark. Early on, the artist frequently worked with collage and assemblage, taking personal possessions and incorporating them into his work, however it seems most are introduced to Dine via his prints and sculptures depicting hearts.

At NorthPark Center, we are lucky to have a sculpture of Dine’s, as he is most prolific as a draughtsman and printmaker (I think his style as a printmaker is very present in the manner in which Dine has applied color to the bronze work). The Field of the Cloth of Gold takes its name from the so-called place in France that was the site of the diplomatic meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France in 1520. At this meeting, meant to foster a bond of friendship between the two kings following the Anglo-French treaty of 1514, each king attempted to outshine the other in terms of their riches. The lavishness of the accommodations each monarch brought to the location – dazzling tents and clothes, elaborate feasts, jousting, music, and games – of course contributed to the nickname of the area as the “field of the cloth of gold.”

The form of the sculpture is familiar to those who have taken an art history course– Dine is riffing off the famous ancient Greek statue the Venus de Milo. Borrowing the marble figure’s contrapposto stance, the drapery of her skirt, and even the missing limbs (broken and lost over time – the Venus de Milo dates to roughly 130 B.C.), Dine updates the marble sculpture with his bronze version through the roughened surface and the application of brightly colored paint. Personally, I find it interesting how Dine retains the missing limbs, even though the original Venus of course had two full arms. Additionally, Dine removes the head of Venus in his bronze version. Placing a sculpture of the female form without a head in a shopping center is of particular interest to me, because we have thousands of “sculptures” at NorthPark without heads – mannequins. In the same way headless mannequins allow the shopper to see themselves in the mannequin and the apparel it is wearing, Dine’s Field of the Cloth of Gold allows viewers to project themselves onto the goddess of love and beauty.