New York

Allen Jones

Richard L. Feigen & Co

For all their apparent exuberance, Allen Jones’s battalion of painted and sculpted figure pieces are remote and grotesque, kin to the human flotsam seen cruising Times Square. Jones’s Men, Women and Hermaphrodites are as pathetically isolated as the figures who criss-cross Giacometti’s bronze piazzas. But there all similarity ends.

Several of the bodies of Jones’s Men are squiggly solids—dollops of toothpaste from some giant square-lipped tube. Others, the most admirable, are constructed out of plexiglass cases; transparent coffins in which are interred the fetishes and tattered remains of idiosyncratic passions. The figures are sundae-topped by cartoonist heads cut out of plastic. Frequently they are no more than a pair of ears, a painted ear canal, a deviated septum, a “T-Zone.” In these anthropomorphic stylizations Jones compounds a debt to Miró.

The Women are less successful, often little more than Pop banalities, an impression which not even their lush sexuality or caressingly molded breasts can dispel. One of the important issues animating Jones’s work is an incessant shift from natural to geometric forms. In his Women particularly the solution to this problem sometimes results in a sputtering fireworks related to the window-decorator kitsch of Marisol. The show’s biggest work for example is an orange skirted-blue pantied mound of Venus encased in a plastic box which in turn contains a pair of fire-engine red pumps. The result of the complementaries and clashes is merely tawdry. It suggests some of the inhibiting effects of straight Pop ideology, regrettable all the more in Allen Jones’s work as he is an artist who otherwise works out from a highly personal and poetic core.

Robert Pincus-Witten