3 Cats and a Dog (Self-portrait) comprises three photobooks by Jim Dine-Birds (2001), Entrada Drive (2005) and Tools (2017)-with a signed self-portrait etching printed over a lithograph. Regardless of his subject, Dine’s photography is simultaneously a record of his immediate environment and a form of autobiography shaped by remembrance. The protagonists of Birds are the white owl, symbol of innocence, and its jester-like companion the black crow, who inhabited Dine’s Berlin studio in the winter of 1996. Entrada Drive transports us to the silvery abundance of Los Angeles flora: the great succulents, fans of grass and proud birds of paradise encountered by Dine and his wife Diana Michener on their walks around their garden and to the Pacific Ocean while staying at 234 Entrada Drive in early 2001. Finally, we return to Dine’s studio in photos of the tools with which he makes art-paintbrushes, drills, hammers, pliers, scissors, saws, clamps and more. Tools is both an unfiltered look into Dine’s working space and his ode to the beauty of the tools themselves, a love born in childhood when he explored his grandfather’s hardware store, admiring the grit, gleaming ceramic sinks, and color charts, in his words like “perfect, perfect jewel boxes.” Dine’s self-portrait rounds off this collection, his eyes fixing us, as his camera fixes its subject.
I keep going because, like the woman who swallowed the knives and nails, I can’t stop. Jim Dine