The now classic image of the heart first appeared in Jim Dine's work in the mid-1960s. Its powerful visual impact as both object and symbol bridge Dine's early fascination with everyday objects such as tools and boots with the charged emotional content and beauty of his later subjects, including portraits and Venus de Milo.
With The House (Heart), 1983, Dine returned to his best known image, a form which literally enfolds the attributes of his other sculptures. Imbedded in the heavily worked clay on the left side of the heart are an axe handle, a hammer, a short axe, a conch shell, a brick and a hand print. On the right side is a bronze Venus de Milo, a cast of a hand, a shell, axes, a clamp and a mallet used for carving. Like Dine's tabletop pieces, The House (Heart) anthologizes the making of sculpture. And like the heads of Nancy, this work refers back to his earlier sculptures, in this case the Straw Heart, 1966-1969 and the Five Chicken Wire Hearts, 1969. In this darkly painted work Dine's metaphor for creativity, for feeling and for abundance is translated into the roughly modeled surfaces of bronze.
The House (Heart) and all of Dine's other recent sculptures reflect his feeling for the working of clay, his dependence upon a discrete set of objects which he can transform and re-use in different ways, and the consistency of his vision. (M. E. Shapiro, Methods and Metaphors: The Sculpture of Jim Dine, New York 1984, pp. 10-11)
Cast number two of three is in the collection of the Tate Gallery in London and cast number three of three is in a private U.S. collection.