Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Allen Jones at the Royal Academy of Arts

This autumn the Royal Academy of Arts will present the first major exhibition of Allen Jones’ work in the UK since 1995. As one of the UK’s most influential and celebrated living artists, this will be a long-overdue appraisal of Jones’ comprehensive contribution to British Pop art. Allen Jones RA will span the artist’s entire career from the 1960s to the present. Comprising over 80 works, the exhibition will feature examples of Jones’ paintings and sculpture, including the iconic furniture works from the late 60s, and new works created especially for this exhibition. 

Rarely-seen drawings will also be displayed to showcase Jones’ exceptional skills as a draughtsman, and the important influence of the medium of drawing on his practice as a whole. Moving away from a traditional chronological approach, the works will be grouped into key sequences, to allow connections and common themes to emerge and to promote a comprehensive understanding of Jones’ wide-ranging artistic practice.

Allen Jones is a key figure in British Pop art whose reputation was established in the 1960s at the Royal College of Art, London, where he studied alongside celebrated artists David Hockney RA, Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips RA and Ron Kitaj amongst others. This cohort of students was catapulted into the spotlight of the British art scene with a new visual language, firmly rooted in contemporary culture, and with the human figure often central to their work.

Stand In, 1991/2. Oil on plywood and fibreglass, 185 x 185 x 63 cm. Banbury, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones 

Fascinating Rhythm, 1982-3. Enamel on plywood, 205 x 143 x 98 cm. Banbury, Private Collection. Image courtesy the artist. © Allen Jones 

Interesting Journey, 1962. Oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm. London, Private Collection. Photo: Private Collection. © Allen Jones

Curious Woman, 1965. Oil, plaster and epoxy resin on wood, 121.9 x 1016 x 20 cm approx. New York, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones.

The female figure has remained an enduring interest for Jones, who has continually found fascination in popular culture’s prolific and differing depictions of femininity, ranging from the erotic to the seductive and the glamorous. Allen Jones RA will present examples of portraits of cultural icons, for example a painting of Darcey Bussell and a new work of Kate Moss, reflecting the strong impact of cult images from 1960s America on his work. 

The exhibition will place a focus on Jones’ sculptural depictions of the female figure, featuring perhaps his most famous and controversial works Hat Stand (1969):

Hat Stand, 1969. Mixed media, 191 x 108 x 40 cm. London, Private collection. Image courtesy the artist. © Allen Jones

Table (1969) and 

Chair (1969):

 but also more recent examples, such as 

Refrigerator (2002) and 

Light (2002).

As a retrospective survey, Allen Jones RA will trace Jones’ development as an artist. The selection of paintings will explore how the early influences of European painting traditions, seen in 

Bikini Baby (1962) 

and Hermaphrodite (1963), 

gave way to the influence of Abstract Expressionism. Jones made frequent and prolonged visits to America where he came to admire the pictorial innovations of his contemporaries Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann in New York, and Ed Ruscha and Mel Ramos on the West Coast, with this inspiration clearly visible in First Step (1966):

First Step, 1966. Oil on canvas, 92 x 92 cm. London, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones

The influences of city life, transport, advertising, music and cinema all provide equally fascinating subject matter for Jones to exploit and explore. For example, 

2nd Bus (1962)

 evokes the energy and movement of people on a mode of transport which was to become a cultural icon for London. Matching Jones’ expansive world view is his ability to work with a wide variety of media, which is very much underpinned by his accomplished skills as a draughtsman. 

Drawing has played a key role throughout his career, and examples on display will explore the relationship between Jones’ drawings and finished works. Borrowing freely from other forms of expression, Jones frequently employs storyboarding techniques to imbue his work with a cinematic sense of action and atmosphere. The result is a highly developed sense of performance, as seen in

Hot Wire (1970) and 

Three-Part Invention (2002).

Allen Jones was elected a Royal Academician in 1986 and his work has been exhibited around the world in both solo and group exhibitions. Jones also designs for stage and television, with productions including Oh Calcutta! (Kenneth Tynan), Männer wir kommen (West Deutsche Rundfunk), Satie/Cinema (Ballet Rambert) and Signed in Red (Royal Ballet, London). Jones lives and works in London and Oxfordshire.


Allen Jones RA has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in close collaboration with the artist. It is curated by Edith Devaney, Curator and Head of Contemporary Projects at the Royal Academy of Arts.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a 96-page fully illustrated catalogue with contributions from Natalie Ferris, Marco Livingstone and Sir Norman Rosenthal.