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  • Provenance

    Waddington and Tooth Galleries, London
    Christie's, London, 11 November 2010, lot 125
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I liked the idea that the picture contained information that was manifestly untrue: the sphere painted so that it defies the picture surface. The figure standing on it accentuated the fact that it is existing in an illusionistic space by definition.’ Allen Jones

    Allen Jones enrolled in the Royal College of Art in 1959 at the age of 22, where he studied under Richard Hamilton alongside a group of young, imaginative and inordinately talented contemporaries such as R.B. Kitaj, Peter Phillips and David Hockney. This intellectual and artistic milieu established a generation of artists who would become instrumental in the birth of the nascent British Pop Art movement. Following his expulsion from the Royal College after only one year, Jones embarked on a formative trip to the US in the 1960s, including a stay in New York during the height of American Pop. Jones’s early work became heavily influenced by the sleek imagery of contemporary American advertisements and pin-ups. Upon his return to London, Jones explored a variety of media including sculpture and four-dimensional representation.

    In Encore (1977) Jones’s exploration of the female form, namely the elongated leg, is the central focus, creating implicit tension through the poised, high arch of the dancer’s foot. The abstracted sensuality of Encore invites a comparison with another pioneer of the American pop art movement, James Rosenquist, whose abstracted aesthetic language similarly incorporated fragments of advertising, automobiles, food and cut out figures to create surreal re-imaginings of postwar America. In both artists’ works, abstraction is not an end in and of itself but is instead reflective of the Modernist tradition of using abstraction to convey emotional and thematic concerns.

    Key to Jones’s depictions of legs are the inherent improbability of his compositions, as evidenced in the structural intrique created by the pivotal, precariously balanced foot. Poised en pointe on top of a sphere and teetering on the edge of a fall, the dancer’s legs are enclosed by the sweeping balletic arch of a quarter circle, suggestive of both a delicate transparent skirt or a cartoonish signifier for movement. The scene is rendered in strikingly flat, saturated block colours that create a chromatic intensity reminiscent of the Pop Art movement. The subsequent two-dimensionality of the shapes, their illusionistic shadows and spotlighting and the incompleteness of the heavily-stylised human figure all work counterintuitively against the implicit tension created by the possibility of the performer’s fall. The scene is at once static, precarious and wholly imaginary – a geometric quandary that creates a visual scepticism in the viewer which perfectly accords with the experience of viewing an illusory circus performance. Writing on the recurring motif in his painting of female legs balancing on a sphere, Jones notes ‘I liked the idea that the picture contained information that was manifestly untrue: the sphere painted so that it defies the picture surface. The figure standing on it accentuated the fact that it is existing in an illusionistic space by definition’ (Allen Jones quoted in Allen Jones, exh. cat., Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1979, n.p.).

113

Encore

signed and dated 'Allen Jones 77' on the overlap
oil on canvas
183 x 183 cm (72 x 72 in.)
Painted in 1977.

Estimate
£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £150,000

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Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 8 March 2019