Conceived as a film poster commission four decades ago, Allen Jones: Maîtresse developed into a series of eight paintings between 1975 and 2015.
Born in Southhampton in 1937, when in his late 30s Allen Jones was approached by the American distributor of Barbet Schroeder’s Maîtresse to design a poster for the film’s 1975 release. Michael Werner Gallery states that despite his inability to, “Identify with its explicit sadomasochistic themes,” Allen accepted the poster commission based on his fondness for the, “powerfully stylised heroine of the film.”
Following censorship by the distributor, Allen kept the original version of his oil on canvas piece depicting Maîtresse’s lead female, a professional dominatrix called Ariane, holding a whip (rather than the keys used in the film version). Having excluded it from any displays of his work for many years, Allen revisited the piece and began developing it into a motif based series in 2008.
Allen spent seven years composing the works shown in the exhibition. The seven additional canvases created in this time see the artist apply his original concept as a motif to a range of new characters. Despite continuing to work with his original palette of burnt orange tones and deep, fiery reds, the additional seven canvases find Allen carving out new figures as both planes and volumes, allowing him to play with the portrayal of light and shadow.
“The first conversation we had about Allen’s work was actually with Peter Doig, who had always been very interested in his practice. After seeing Jones’ impressive Royal Academy show we felt it was the perfect timing to start collaborating with this legendary artist, whose important contribution to contemporary art has been somewhat left out of the established art world discourse. Jones is very well known to the London audience, however, this series of work has never been shown together. We hope its presentation will expand the understanding of the artist by exploring an aspect of the practice not covered by the Royal Academy exhibition,” says Kadee Robbins, Director of Micheal Werner Gallery London.