The controversial work of Allen Jones may be synonymous with scantily clad salacious female forms – taking shape as functional pieces of furniture in some cases – so it’s not surprising that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if anything, this retrospective of his work at the Royal Academy, which spans his entire career, will demonstrate the far-reaching influence of the pop artist.
The show will trace his career from the 60s up until the present. Abandoning simple chronology, the show’s curation opts for a theme-based approach, dissecting the preoccupations of Jones’ oeuvre and his fusing of painting, city life, advertising and American consumer culture. Working at the same time as Warhol, Hockney and Lichtenstein, his work is as challenging and shocking as it ever was and retains the undeniable Pop Art humour, graphic-qualities and provocative subject matter.
The pinnacle moment in Jones’ artistic inspiration – and what came to be Jones’ trademark Hyper female forms – came from one little incident in Reno, 1965… or so the story goes. The plastic fantastic models and taut high-heel propped legs came to this British artist on a road trip in America, via a showgirl slot machine.
Works on display include that aforementioned fetish furniture, as well as rarely seen storyboards for the artworks. The show will also expose the influence of Jones on other artforms, and inevitably this includes fashion. His authority on the hyper real female form and its ambiguous messages haunts popular culture still today. Be that as it may, Jones’ acute awareness of visual language ensures this will be a challenging and eye-opening exhibition. (Words: Laura Thornley)
On until 25th January 2015. For more info visit: www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/allen-jones-ra