Lambasted for his objectification of the female nude, but Allen Jones, it turns out, is also a fine draughtsman
Robin-Dutt-176‘I’m going to write a piece on Allen Jones,’ I jauntily said to my supper companion. ‘That misogynist, that poseur…’ she hissed before I could take a sip of my martini.

And while it is true that especially his female furniture pieces remain the most controversial, overt and best remembered for every reason, so much of his other varied work from the early 1960s to date remains a mite overshadowed.

One forgets, or cares not to remember, his fine draughtsmanship, works on canvas, painted steel sculptures, photographs and wooden structures that expose the extent and intent of a most vivid and varied imagination.

As one of the last sentinels of Pop Art who has resolutely stuck to his blazing guns, with surely a sense of humour as opposed to objectification alone, he holds – like it or not – a unique place in British and international art.

There is the electricity of his early paintings – bright bolts of almost tropical primary colour – featuring dancers, magicians, tumbling couples and the like, or he focuses on certain parts of the human form informed by a spike heel here and a wisp of material there. Naked figures leaping through volcanic skies or semi-abstract human figures fizzing with mischief ensure that even after such a passage of time – almost half a century – they remain juicy fresh. Indeed, they seem more relevant than ever. Ever the prankster, Jones’s titles can be irritating to some – Cover Story, Caught In The Act, and Maid To Order III might seem to suggest the canvas comedian.

But inevitably, we must return to those mannequin-utility pieces – tables, chairs, hatstands – that probably, rightly or wrongly, will steal the show. Still, somehow so static are these works, so frozen, that can they really be regarded as obvious objectification? For some, indeed for many, yes. But their glances are dead. We are looking at shop mannequins, albeit in less than clothes-selling stance. But strangely, they are not selling sex either.

After the view, my catalogue was open at a double-page spread of his famous female table complete with sheepskin rug and mirror. ‘Ooh, I like that one,’ gushed another lady as she proceeded to flick through the pages. Horses for courses? And let us also not forget that in our current society, surely with acres of flesh and exposure of sexual suggestion, aka Beyoncé, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and of course, Kim Kardashian, might one not say that… ‘sisters are doing it for themselves’?

Until 25 January 2015 at the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London W1: 020-7300 8000,