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b. 1937, United Kingdom

Allen Jones Biography

Allen Jones is a leading British Pop artist and Royal Academician who rose to prominence in the 1960s as the Pop art movement reached its peak in Britain. He is best known for his colourful and often sexualised paintings, sculptures, and lithography.

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Born in Southampton, Allen Jones studied at Hornsey College of Art, London, between 1955 and 1959 before moving on to the Royal College of Art, London. Jones and several other students at the college, including Peter Phillips, David Hockney, and R.B. Kitaj, became crucial figures in the genesis of the British Pop art movement.

Jones' time at the Royal College of Art was defined by an antagonism—between a traditionally minded staff and the students who would ignite the 1960s' artistic revolutions—that would see his expulsion in 1960. Antagonism towards the then-dominant anti-figurative language of Minimalism fuelled Jones' early Pop artworks.

Allen Jones' early artworks are irreverent semi-realistic figurative representations inspired by modern idealised and fetishised perceptions of the body in advertising, comic strips, catalogues, women magazines, and fetish materials. In his painting 2nd Bus (1962), the artist plays with the lines between conceptual and representational art by forming the shape of a bus with the canvas itself. In Man Woman (1963), blocky shapes form a headless couple and merge the individuals in a tangled embrace. Such works quickly won the artist critical acclaim, earning him the Prix des Jeunes Artistes at the 1963 Paris Biennale.

Jones is perhaps most well-known for his early and controversial body of work encapsulated by Hatstand, Table, and Chair (all 1969): female mannequins dressed in bondage fetishist garb, contorted and incorporated into furniture. The artist's main concern was not perceptions of gender, though such work drew much ire in that regard; rather, he intended for them to be shocking statements that might find a place for the figure in the 1960s avantgarde.

These sexually charged early works eventually gave way to more stylised and lyrical art referencing fashion, dancing, and cabaret. From the mid-1970s and the 1980s, he began to develop the bold colour schemes and abstracted forms that define his work today. Works such as Box (1980)—a lithograph printed across four sheets of paper—offer the hint of a figure dancing amongst vibrant swathes of red, green, blue, and brown.

Expanding his practice to the realm of public art, Jones later created a number of steel sculptures in urban spaces across the globe, including The Acrobat (1993): a 50-foot-high steel sculpture in the atrium of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. In The Acrobat, an abstracted figure painted in yellow and teal balances a large red ball on what could be its toe, bringing the artist's interest in movement and balance to a larger-than-life scale.

Recent artworks have seen Allen Jones’ colourful painting and mannequin-based sculptural practices come together. In Backdrop (2016–2017), a female mannequin stands perched on a stool in front of a large canvas, its body painted to match the canvas’ red, pink, yellow, and green hues. In another recent work—Arcade (2019)—a similar mannequin stands inside a bow-fronted box window labelled ‘ARCADE’, again painted to match the red, yellow, and brown hues behind it.

Influencing the proceeding generations of avantgarde artists, Allen Jones has also spent a good deal of his career teaching, taking up roles at institutions like Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and the Chelsea College of Arts in London. He has also worked on theatre set designs and served as a trustee at the British Museum, London.

Jones' work can be found in several major public collections worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Tate, London; British Museum, London; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Vancouver Art Gallery; and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.

Allen Jones solo exhibitions include:

Allen Jones RA, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2014); Allen Jones, Kunsthalle Hannover (2013); Off the Wall, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany (2012); Allen Jones, Tate Britain, London (2007); Allen Jones, Barbican Art Gallery, London (1995); Allen Jones: Retrospective of Paintings 1957–78, Serpentine Gallery, London (1979); Allen Jones 1957–1978: a Retrospective of Paintings, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (1979).

Allen Jones group exhibitions include:

Glam! The Art of Excess, Tate Liverpool (2012); British Design 1948–2012: Innovation in the Modern Age, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2012); Transition: The London Art Scene in the Fifties, Barbican Art Gallery, London (2002); Les Sixties, Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, Paris (1997); Pop Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London (1991).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Allen Jones
featured artworks

The Studio by Allen Jones contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Allen Jones The Studio, 1985 Oil on canvas
244 x 233 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
Legs by Allen Jones contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Allen Jones Legs, c. 1965 Oil on canvas
20.3 x 15.2 cm
Not for sale
Vardaxoglou Gallery
Now or never by Allen Jones contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Allen Jones Now or never, 2019 Oil on canvas
183 x 150 cm
Almine Rech Request Price & Availability
Female Spear by Allen Jones contemporary artwork painting
Allen Jones Female Spear, 1965–1966 Oil on canvas
182 x 91 cm
Robilant+Voena Request Price & Availability

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Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium
Almine Rech London, New York, Shanghai, Paris, Brussels +2
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