Born in Southampton, England in 1937, Allen Jones studied painting and lithography at Horsley College of Art before becoming a graduate from the Royal College of Art in 1959. He became part of the Pop Art movement and took his inspiration from the way people interacted and was fascinated with the fusion of male and female qualities.
Mail order catalogues and fetish magazines of the 40s and 50s provided him with ideas and he was one of the first artists to use commercial imagery in his paintings. Jones became truly transfixed by feet and legs which prominently feature in his works. The concept of real and false intrigued the artist as he experimented with sculpture and although he soon returned to painting many experts believe his paintings take on sculpture quality in two dimensions.
Colour is also important to the artist and he associates it with gender with black and red are masculine and yellow feminine. He also uses hues to add emotional or aesthetic density to his images.
Symbolism a la Freud and Jung. play key roles in many of his works with a crumpled trilby or tie definite male attributes. He paints modern myths of sexual identity with humour and allusion, focusing on the mystery of sex rather than attempting to explain it. His common themes of legs and high-heeled shoes represent the entire body and the artist frequently juxtaposes himself with his fantasies in a collage style, like a family album.
Allen Jones could be controversial, no more so than his fibreglass female mannequins, forged as everyday furniture like tables and chairs. They were object d’art and not for functional use but did raise the wrath of feminists concerned at the implied implication. Ironically these sculptures promoted more debate as to the liberated role of women more than their stereotypical constraints of misogyny.
He used ‘cut a way’ to reveal the mechanics beneath the outer skin. Common in anitomica, Jones used to display the intimate apparel and beyond. The viewer is left to see through perspective, quite fascinating.
The pocket library of art: Alan Jones London: Brockhampton Press