Allen Jones - SEX Theme Sale London Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Arthur Tooth & Sons, London; Private Collection, London

  • Exhibited

    London, Arthur Tooth and Sons, Allen Jones, June–July 1967

  • Catalogue Essay

    Soft Tread belongs to a body of work Allen Jones executed in the mid-1960s upon his return to London from America. Stylizing and exaggerating a shoe advertising image from a Fredericks of Hollywood mail order catalogue, Jones depicts a life-size fragment of the female anatomy – a profile view of the lower half – feet, legs and bottom covered in erotic gartered and laced hosiery with an impossibly high stiletto-heeled shoe shown as if resting on a wooden shelf that juts out from the lower edge of the canvas. The illusionistic modelling of the anatomy, together with the detailed rendering of the sensual curves and folds of the skin, adds to the sexual charge of the image by concentrating attention on both its tactility and fetishistic associations.
    Although painted mostly with flat planes of colour, in the lower portion of the composition where the canvas meets the wooden shelf, Jones uses the thick impasto of a vibrant, lustful red to give the overall work a strong sculptural feel. The jutting wooden shelf suggests that the image might enter the viewer’s space, with the extreme modelling of the figure’s curvaceous contours provoking the sense of and desire to touch.
    “There was an orthodoxy within the American avant-garde identified in an article by Max Kozloff around 1964–65 whilst I was living in New York City.
    “Regardless of stylistic preference, this orthodoxy required the use of flat plane or at least eggshell finish, and above all, an adherence to the picture plane. I did not feel that illusionism need necessarily destroy the picture plane and on my return to London painted a series of pictures examining this belief.
    “Fixing a shelf to the edge of the picture underscores its existence as an object. Whilst the unambiguous contours of the painted image allowed all the freedom required to model the legs.”
    From telephone interview with Allen Jones, February 2010


Soft Tread

Oil on canvas and wood.
128.7 × 102.5 × 11 cm (50 3/4 × 40 1/2 × 4 1/4 in).

Signed, titled and dated ‘Allen Jones Soft Tread 66’ on the stretcher bar; signed and dated ‘Allen Jones/66’ on the overlap.

£60,000 - 80,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £361,250

SEX Theme Sale

19 March 2010