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Object of the month: November 2014

Allen Jones RA, 'Spice Island', 1986

Published 1 November 2014

Typical of the work of Allen Jones RA in its examination of the voyeuristic gaze, this print depicts the psychology of human interaction in bold unmodulated colours.

  • Allen Jones has enjoyed international renown as a painter, sculptor and printmaker since he came to prominence as a Pop artist in the 1960s. He has said that working across these different media constantly provides new technical challenges which in turn spark his creativity. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1986 as a printmaker, reflecting the importance he attaches to his work in this medium, and presented Spice Island as his Diploma Work (the piece traditionally given to the Academy on election). Jones’s prints, like those of other artists, are usually produced in editions, but Spice Island is unusual because it is a monoprint; a unique impression.

    Jones’s art takes as its subject the interrelation between male and female figures. His themes have included circus dancers, nightclubs, the stage, parties, the artist and model, and the pianist and performer. This print was inspired by figures observed by the artist on the sea shore while on holiday in the Caribbean. Always interested in the psychology of human interaction, Jones introduces an element of voyeurism. The male figure on the right gazes at the two female figures. One, however, returns his stare.

  • Allen Jones RA, Spice Island

    Allen Jones RA, Spice Island, 1986.

    Diploma Work given by Allen Jones, R.A., accepted 1987.

    Monoprint. 108 X 154 cm. © Royal Academy of Arts, London.

  • The bold use of colour for which Jones is renowned has grown out of an early interest in the Fauvists of the first decade of the Twentieth Century as well as developments in post-war abstract painting in America. However, unlike the artists associated with the latter, Jones has never felt he wanted to renounce figuration in his work. Instead he has taken inspiration from the imagery of popular culture, which he has used to explore his own formal concerns. In this work, the viewer is prompted to explore the relationship between the bold, gestural areas of unmodulated colour and the forms, for example of the figures and the tree.

    Allen Jones RA is in Burlington Gardens at the RA from 13 November until 25 January 2015.