In an Interview Magazine piece published online last Friday, the controversial 78-year-old British artist Allen Jones engages in a career-spanning conversation with Emily McDermott to coincide with his current retrospective exhibition at Michael Werner in New York, his first show in the city in close to 30 years. (Jones also has a second show, “Maîtresse,” up now through early May at Werner’s London outpost.)
Jones takes us through his early days in New York living at the Chelsea Hotel and hanging out with some Ab-Ex heavy hitters, and talks about his aversion to painting portraits. (“Basically the responsibility is too much,” he states.) He also reacts to Interview’s controversial December/January Kylie Jenner cover, which was inspired by the artist’s own work. The digitally altered image features Jenner clad in leather and latex sitting in a wheelchair and veers into the realm of the uncanny valley. (Disclosure: Interview is owned by Peter Brant, who is also the majority shareholder in the parent company of ARTnews.)
From the piece:
JONES: [flips through the pages and Kylie Jenner story] This is fantastic! I have a drawer full [of] variations on the furniture sculpture idea. I have a fantasy that Taschen would do a book and we would have a whole sequence showing the incredible range of the use of this image from all over the world, including from the London underground and some artist in China who does panoramic paintings. [Once,] Dasha Zhukova was sitting on [the New York-based Norwegian artist] Bjarne Melgaard’s version of my chair—this tall, wealthy white Russian sitting on a black version of my work, on International Woman’s day! [laughs] I came home one day and there were a lot of messages on my phone, all from the press wanting to get in touch about this thing, including the BBC news. I have a place in the country and the gardener even rang and said, “I don’t know what’s happening, there are all these photographers…” This is out in the middle of Oxfordshire—if people want to find you, they certainly can. In the end, I went on the BBC, they said, “What do you think about the thing?” and I said, “Listen this is a beautiful, wealthy young woman, she has just bought this sculpture, the photographer comes in, it’s a chair, and says ‘Hey sit down.’ It’s not meant to be an insult to half of the globe,” but such is the power of the image and the press… But this is incredible. I love magazines. I’ve heard about this person [Kylie Jenner] and her family. The business of transgender, that’s the flavor of the moment isn’t it? I find that life, as we go on, seems to be an affirmation of my paintings.
Read the interview in full right here.