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Dividing Opinion / A Career in Quotes: Allen Jones

12 August 2015

Pop art pioneer Allen Jones's work has attracted controversy, opprobium and admiration in equal measure. A career-spanning retrospective at the Royal Academy in 2014 allowed a cooler appraisal. Browse a selection of his works alongside some of the divided opinions from critics, 1973-2014.

Stand In, 1991/2. Oil on plywood and fibreglass, 185 x 185 x 63 cm. Banbury, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones
The price of being controversial is usually increased fame, but for Jones it has resulted in his work being ostracised in this country. Allen Jones is an immensely charming, erudite and sophisticated artist who uses colour, subject and form in inventive and intriguing ways. His career deserves to be properly reassessed.
Andrew Lambirth, The Spectator, 2014

Hat Stand, 1969. Mixed media, 191 x 108 x 40 cm. London, Private collection. Image courtesy the artist. © Allen Jones
Allen Jones was a Duchampian before the Hirst generation were even born. His art is an icy joke about the power of desire: it pays homage to Duchamp's ironic view of human culture as a masturbatory machine.
Jonathan Jones, Guardian, October, 2013

Body Armour, 2013. Photograph. 127 x 127 cm. London, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones
The exploitation of already exploitative material cannot be seen as politically neutral, whatever the artist’s intentions and the use of a particular kind of sexual imagery contributes to the ‘objectification’, even degradation of women.
Lisa Tickner, Block magazine, 1979

Curious Woman, 1965. Oil, plaster and epoxy resin on wood, 121.9 x 1016 x 20 cm approx. New York, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones
This brings us smack into debates on pornography and censorship: at what point should we restrict the circulation of images? It is certainly true that Jones’ work seems tame now, but does this mean, as proponents of censorship seem to argue, that perversion is contagious?
Mark Sladen, Frieze magazine, 1995

First Step, 1966. Oil on canvas, 92 x 92 cm. London, Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones
The fetishist image of women has three aspects, all of which come across clearly in his [Allen Jones] books and art objects. First: woman plus phallic substitute. Second: woman minus phallus, punished and humiliated, often by woman plus phallus. Third: woman as phallus. Women are displayed for men as figures in an amazing masquerade, which expresses a strange male underworld of fear and desire.
Laura Mulvey, Spare Rib, 1973

Darcey Bussell, 1994 | oil on canvas 183 x 152.4 cm. Image courtesy of the artist. © Allen Jones
You could argue that Jones's work isn't really about women; it's about men and how they look at and think about women.
Richard Dorment, Telegraph, 2014

Elsewhere on the BBC

The original version of this article was published in November 2014, to coincide with the opening of Jones's Royal Academy retrospective.

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