Allen Jones (Southampton, 1937) is a British artist among the founders of the British Pop Art.
The Pop Art movement started in London with the exhibition This is Tomorrow at Whitechapel Art Gallery (1956). The references to the popular culture and the use of a pictorial technique coming from the advertising world and the consumer products, besides from the movies and photography, was mixed to a playful and exuberant language that was meant to focus on everyday objects and images that were not considered important enough to become art till that time. While he is studying at the Royal College of Art, before getting expelled from it, Allen Jones is included in the exhibition Young Contemporaries in 1961, an annual event at the Royal Society of British Artists. The artists taking part to it, like David Hockney and Peter Phillips, give birth officially to the British Pop Art, characterized by its innovative way to critically look at the images from mass media. Initially attracted by the art of Matisse, Robert Delaunay, Vasilij Kandinskij and Paul Klee, Allen Jones uses those free compositions of chromatic shapes to define his painting from 1963. His themes are characterized by lyrical erotic evocations and deals at first with couples and then individual women that substitute the group of paintings showing buses (Bus, 1962), cars, planes, parachutists. Attracted by the Abstract Expressionism and getting curious about the development of the American Pop Art of Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana and Claes Oldenburg, Allen Jones decides to moves to New York in 1964 where he opens his atelier in the famous Chelsea Hotel. In that period he strengthens his friendship with Peter Phillips and he focuses his art more and more on those sensual and ironic themes which characterize his entire production. From 1966 First Step is focused on the stylized and strongly erotic sculptures made of fibreglass, showing women with revealing clothes playing the role of furnishings, as in the famous work Hatstand, Table, Chair (1969) which will lead to a wave of protests. Feminism was making inroads and Jones gets criticised by the public even though he declares in 1975 that he aims at awaking the viewer providing an alternative to the traditional figurative sculpture, now free from preconceptions. His ironic and impudent, but never morbid, art makes him internationally famous.
Stanley Kubrick imitates some of his works, as those of "Korowa Milk Bar", for the sceneries of some parts of A Clockwork Orange (1971). Even though the artist doesn't participate directly to that project, then he collaborates to a series of sceneries among which those for the movie Maîtresse by Barbet Schroeder (1975) and for Signed in Red for the Royal Ballet of London.
Allen Jones himself says during an interview in 1988 at the Trussardi Foundation: «I am very attracted by the situations connected to artificial artistic representations taking place in delimited and not deep spaces, such as the stage. I am interested in the concept of performance connected with the artificiality of the figures, above all when they represent themselves as in a ballet or at the Opera. This stylized and artificial situations make the figures more real than the art of the portrait». In this inter-disciplinary context, we have to mention his collaboration with the photographer Brian Duffy for the Pirelli Calendar (1973). In 1974 he starts to travel from Canada to Japan. In 1979 a retrospective exhibition is steged first at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and then at the Serpentine Gallery in London and in four venues in Germany. In 1986 he exhibits at the Venice Biennale together with Tony Cragg and in the same year he becomes member of the Royal Academy of Art, which will dedicate him a room in 2009 and will organize the important Allen Jones Retrospective in 2004. From the 1980s, Jones's paintings look back at the origins with parts of mannequins emerging from large fields of color, as Believe it or not (1999) realized for the exhibition in the same year at our Galleria d'Arte Maggiore g.a.m.. He also dedicates himself to aluminium sculptures commissioned by City Councils or Museums, as for example the Cass Sculpture Foundation in Great Britain, or to the drawings Rhythm and Blues (1993) which, however, are connected to the common denominator of his art: his desire to present inventions of images based on the fantastic perception of reality, where eros is freely lived in every kind of situations. The artist himself says about this: «If in previous years, also in relation to the American Pop movement, I tried to work in the direction of a flat and emblematic representation, through sculpture I have returned to my most natural instinct which manifests itself in particular in the manipulation of colours and brush technique. Now my work proceeds on two parallel levels: my sculpture is very pictorial and my painting is becoming more and more lyrical, perhaps softer». And the commissions for sculptures in the world are numerous, as for the example that realized for the Taikoo Place in Hong Kong (1997). Allen Jones now lives and works in Oxfordshire, England.
Allen Jones's works are in the major Museums in the world, such as the Royal Academy of Arts Collection and Tate Gallery in London, MoMa - Museum of Modern Art in New York, Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Nagoake Museum in Japan, Victoria & Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery in London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., Museum of XXth Century Art in Vienna, Moderna Museet of Stockholm, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Bruxelles, Regional Museum in Olinda in Brasil.
In February 2013, the famous triptych Hatstand, Table, Chair (1969) was sold at Christie's for the record price of £ 2,169,250.
Galleria d'Arte Maggiore g.a.m. staged an important Allen Jones's solo show in 1999 in its venue in Bologna, with works from 1987 to 1999. Some of them were realized expressly for the this exhibition, as the famous Believe it or not (1999), a work on board where parts of an emblematic mannequins come out from large fields of color (catalogue: AAVV, Allen Jones: Believe it or not, Galleria d'Arte Maggiore g.a.m., 1999). Maggiore g.a.m. has curated and produced another solo show in 2002, Allen Jones. Believe it or not, comprehensive of all the artist's production from 1966 to 2001: from mannequins to sculptures, from the paintings with large fields of color of the 1960s to the more lyrical echoes of the last period. The exhibition was split in two parts: one in the main gallery's exhibition space in Bologna and one in the Institutional venue of Palazzo dei Sette in Orvieto, with the patronage of the Umbria Region (catalogue: AAVV, Allen Jones. Believe it or not, Galleria d'Arte Maggiore g.a.m., 2002).