Allen Jones At The Royal Academy: Sexism Or Sensationalism?

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 42 months ago
Allen Jones At The Royal Academy: Sexism Or Sensationalism? ★★☆☆☆ 2
Allen Jones
 First Step, 1966 
 Oil on canvas and laminated shelf, 91.5 x 93x 9.1 cm
 Image courtesy of the artist
First Step. One of many paintings focussing on legs. Image courtesy and copyright of the artist
Key. 33  /  Cat. 0
 
 Allen Jones RA
 Hat Stand, 1969
 Mixed media, 191 x 108 x 40 cm
 Private collection, London 
    Image courtesy the artist /  ?? Allen Jones
Hat Stand - one of the controversial 'furniture' set including table and chair. Image courtesy and copyright of the artist
Allen Jones RA
 Interesting Journey, 1962
 Oil on canvas, 61 x 51cm
 LONDON, PRIVATE COLLECTION 
 c. Allen Jones
 Photo: Private Collection
Interesting Journey, one of his abstract expressionist paintings. Image courtesy and copyright of the artist
Key. 57  /  Cat. 0
 
 Allen Jones
 Fascinating Rhythm, 1982-3
 Enamel on plywood
 205 x 143 x 98 cm
 BANBURY, Private Collection
 Image courtesy the artist
 ?? Allen Jones
Fascinating Rhythm. The exhibition contains many painted sculptures of entwined bodies. Image courtesy and copyright of the artist
Stand In - a more recent work examining the female form. Image courtesy and copyright of the artist
Stand In - a more recent work examining the female form. Image courtesy and copyright of the artist

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The artwork of Allen Jones is still controversial today — viewed by some as misogynistic, defended by others as highlighting the treatment of women as objects in a patriarchal society. We however suspect Jones would rather just be seen as an artist who admires the female form.

The more famous controversial works will undoubtedly get the most attention: semi-naked women dressed in fetishistic attire posed variously as a hat stand, on all fours as a table, and as a chair with legs up forming the backrest — the latter having been famously attacked by a feminist campaigner with paint stripper back in 1986.

Though these works still divide people, this exhibition sets out to show Jones's full range of paintings and sculptures. His painting styles include darker abstract figures and large bright sensual works featuring many couples embracing, with the flowing lines creating a dream-like impression. The difficulty with these works is that we struggle to find a deeper substance to them and they pale when compared to truly great figurative painters like Picasso or Francis Bacon.

His sculptures have a similar style over substance feel to them as well, with his gracefully posed nudes and a representation of Kate Moss feeling flat. Jones is obsessed with the female form and this is evident in almost all his works here, representing a career that spans over 50 years.

If the controversy of his work is set aside then we're left with a portfolio of work that's rather one-dimensional and superficial. There is an aesthetic beauty to some of his art but anyone searching for anything deeper within will leave disappointed, as we did.

Allen Jones RA is on at Royal Academy of Arts from 13 November until 25 January 2015. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available.

Last Updated 12 November 2014