Allen Jones

Chair

1969

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Allen Jones born 1937
Medium
Acrylic paint on glass fibre and resin with Perspex and leather
Dimensions
Object: 775 x 571 x 991 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1981
Reference
T03244

Online caption

Jones’s provocative Chair is one of three ‘furniture’ works (alongside Handstand and Table) that show women wearing fetish clothing portrayed as objects. They caused controversy when they were first exhibited and have lost none of their power to provoke anger. Jones produced them at the time the Women’s Liberation Movement became prominent and women artists critiqued the ‘male gaze’ (as in work by Margaret Harrison on display nearby). Jones said in 2014 ‘ The sculptures are trapped in their time but hopefully people are robust enough to see them as playful, and regard them as another way you can look at humanity.’

Catalogue entry

T03244 CHAIR 1969

Not inscribed
Acrylic on glass fibre and resin with perspex and leather, 30 1/2 × 22 15/16 × 39 (77.5 × 56 × 99)
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Prov: Sold anonymously Sotheby's 4 December 1980, lot 394 repr.in colour; bt. Waddington Galleries
Exh: Allen Jones, Galleria Milano, Milan, June 1970 (works not listed, repr.); Kitsch, Galleria Blu, Milan, June 1971; Galleria Narciso, Turin, February 1971
Lit: Marco Livingstone, catalogue of the 1979 Allen Jones retrospective exhibition, n.p.; Marco Livingstone, Allen Jones: Sheer Magic, 1979, pp.71–2

In 1969 three female figures by Allen Jones each slightly larger than life size, ‘Hatstand’, ‘Table’ and ‘Chair’, were cast in fibreglass in editions of 6 by Gems Wax Models Ltd of Notting Hill, London, a firm of commercial sculptors who made (and make) shop window mannequins and sculptures for waxworks. Stylistically the figures are similar to those in Jones's paintings of c.1967–8. For the figures Jones made working drawings from memory, not in front of a model. From these drawings a professional sculptor, Dick Beech of Gems Wax Models, produced clay figures under Jones's direction; these clay figures were modified in accordance with his intentions. He wanted to make sculpture ‘without fine art marks, devoid of fine art clothing’. When the first, ‘Hatstand’, a standing figure, was finished he realized that it might be construed as a bizarre window mannequin and so he decided to process the figure so that it would not appear to be just a decorative object. This he did by giving the other two sculptures a more obvious function, that of being a table and a chair, so that the viewer's expectation of what could be fine art would be questioned and allow the viewer to perceive the figure anew as a subject in art.

In Jones's view ‘because these 3 sculptures of women are recognisably representational it is less obvious that the sculpture is not about being naturalistic. They are not so much about representing woman but the experience of woman, not an illusion’.

With reference to his work in general Jones considers (slightly modified statement quoted by Livingstone, op.cit.) that:

' The erotic impulse transcends cerebral barriers and demands a direct emotional response. Confronted with an abstract statement people readily defer to an expert; but confronted with an erotic statement everyone is an expert. It seems to me a democratic idea that art should be accessible to everyone on some level, and eroticism in one such level’.


Jones considers that the three sculptures ‘Hatstand’, ‘Table’ and ‘Chair’ are the most radical statements that he has made. According to Sotheby's sale catalogue the Tate cast is number 6.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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