A sexual statement seen as so shocking to some that one of Jones’ chairs saw acid thrown at it by a feminist protester, many see Allen Jones’ chair as an equally acidic work of sexual misogyny. Depicting a topless leather-clad woman turned into a piece of furniture, the piece equally plays on fetishism and femininity with its turning of a woman into an object. Whether this is done with a wry sense of humour or out of pure chauvinism, many cannot agree, but no one can deny how radical the piece is as a piece of sexual subversion.
Allen Jones is a British Pop artist best known for his figurative paintings and sculpture. His work is characterized by its sexual imagery and interest in traditional male and female power dynamics, alternating between celebrating and satirizing fetishes and BDSM practices. He was born on September 1, 1937 in Southampton, England and attended the Royal College of Art, where David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj were his classmates. Though Jones was expelled from the school after only one year, he went on to be included in the seminal 1961 “Young Contemporaries” exhibition, credited by the British Press with launching the English Pop Art movement. He moved to New York in 1964, where he began developing his signature erotic aesthetic. His painting Perfect Match (1966), depicting a topless and semi-abstracted woman, would mark a turning point in his art. In 1970, his installation Hatstand, Table, and Chair—three furniture pieces constructed out of female BDSM mannequins—became his most famous and controversial work. Jones now teaches was elected a Royal Academician at the Royal College of Art, where a large retrospective of his work was staged in 2015.