Allen Jones, R.A. (b. 1937)
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF CHARLES AND SHIRLEY SCHNEER'What interested me was putting something on the screen that nobody else had on the screen, which was difficult to find. And I was interested in visuals, and locations that had not been photographed, and I was also interested in leaving California to find those locations, because every rock, every tree within 50 miles of Los Angeles, had been photographed'-Charles SchneerCharles Schneer’s quest for originality and innovation have secured him a place as one of the all-time great producers of Hollywood. The films that he created with Ray Harryhausen led the way in special effects through the use of `Dynamation' and influenced subsequent generations of producers and directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Peter Jackson. 'Most producers sit back with a big fat cigar. Charles was much more active than that, a truly creative producer. We formulated the stories together, and he dealt with the actors and I dealt with the special effects. It was real teamwork'-Ray HarryhausenSchneer and Harryhausen’s partnership lasted 25 years, producing a dozen films together, including the cult classics, It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and The Argonauts and Clash of The Titans. Born on 5 May 1920 in Norfolk, Virginia, his family moved to Mount Vernon, New York State. It was here that he met Shirley Sussman at a high school dance and they were to marry in 1940 after they had both graduated from Columbia University and Charles was employed at Columbia Pictures. Schneer joined the US Army Signal Corps photographic unit for the duration of World War II. Following the outbreak of peace he returned to Columbia Pictures, working in the low budget production unit where he learned to make entertaining films on very limited budgets. This was famously put into good effect in the first movie that he made with Harryhausen in 1955, It Came From Beneath the Sea, where the giant octopus enveloping the Golden Gate Bridge only had six tentacles. Harryhausen observed 'If the budget was cut any more, we would have had a tripod!'In 1956 Schneer set up Morningside Productions in order to have more artistic control over his films and in 1960 Charles and Shirley moved to London. It was here in London that the Schneers discovered the exciting and creative mix of fashion, film and art now so well documented. Shirley, sharing her husband’s love of innovation, explored the galleries of the west end and, in 1964, attended the opening of the Pop artist Allen Jones’s show at the Tooth Gallery. The whit and visual impact of Marriage Medal immediately appealed to Shirley and she bought the painting on the spot. This work remained hanging in the couple’s dining room for the next 45 years until she took it with her to Florida following Charles’s death.Charles Schneer had two wonderful and lasting partnerships in his life and maybe the secret to both can be found in Ray Harryhausen’s answer to being asked what the secret of his and Schneer’s success was:'never agreeing ... We were together for a long time. Charles always had a great sympathy for fantasy. We had many disagreements, which brings up that old saying, “if two people think exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary.” So we battled out many things in the name of the film, and in the end we’d come to a compromise'.This “compromise” resulted in the creation of some of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinematography and a wonderful and lasting marriage between the two high school sweethearts, Charles and Shirley Schneer.
Allen Jones, R.A. (b. 1937)

Marriage Medal

Allen Jones, R.A. (b. 1937)
Marriage Medal
signed, inscribed and dated 'Allen Jones MARRIAGE MEDAL 1963' (on the canvas overlap)
oil on two joined canvases, shaped
98 x 48¼ in. (249 x 122.5 cm.)
Painted in 1963.
Purchased at the 1964 exhibition by the present owner.
Exhibition catalogue, Allen Jones Work, London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, 1964, n.p., no. 8, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Pop Art in England. Beginnings of a new Figuration 1947-63, Hamburg, Arts Council of Great Britain and British Council, Kunstverein, 1976, p. 77, pl. 73.
Exhibition catalogue, Allen Jones Retrospective of Paintings 1957-1978, Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, 1979, n.p., no. 12, illustrated.
A. Lambirth, Allen Jones Works, London, 2005, pp. 47-48, fig. 41.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Allen Jones Work, January - February 1964, no. 8.
Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Allen Jones Retrospective of Paintings 1957-1978, March - April 1979, no. 12: this exhibition travelled to London, Serpentine Gallery, May - June 1979; Sunderland, Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery, June - July 1979; Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, September - October 1979; and Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, November - December 1979.

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Lot Essay

In 1962, in an exuberant series of parallelogram-shaped canvases representing London’s red double-decker buses, Allen Jones was among the first painters in Britain to explore the expressive possibilities of ‘shaped’ canvases. Testing the descriptive potential of non-rectangular outline alone in identifying the subject, leaving him free to engage in plays of colour and mark-making more commonly encountered in gestural abstraction, he brought a pronounced Pop sensibility to bear on this engagement with formal concerns that had much in common with the work of such abstract painters as the Americans Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella and the Englishman Richard Smith. The issue of the shaped canvas, closely associated with art being made in New York, came to the fore in the mid-1960s. In works such as Marriage Medal, Jones can rightly be regarded as a trailblazer of what became common practice, using it as an animating force, and in an explicitly representational context, in a few key works made between 1962 and 1964.

One of the larger bus paintings, Second Bus, 1962, has a pair of appended small square canvases below, representing the wheels of the moving bus that form the larger shaped canvas. This witty conceit soon led Jones to devise other combinations of canvas shapes abutting each other, always with an eye to conveying images of modernity, fantasy, adventure and shared experiences of ordinary day-today existence. Even before the addition of painted imagery, the shape alone could express the essence of the subject at a glance. In Wunderbare Landung, 1963 (Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums), an octagon surmounting a rectangle represents a parachute and its human cargo floating earthwards through the sky; the same combination of shapes created over stretchers of identical dimensions was reconfigured a year later as Falling Woman, an upskirted view of female genitalia framed by the stockings and garters that define her legs.

In 1959-60 Jones was part of a group of painting students associated with a vibrant early wave of British Pop Art at the Royal College of Art. After he was expelled at the end of his first year of study for his supposed insubordination, he maintained contact with these friends and continued to explore many of the same concerns that were evident in their work and that gave rise to a sense of a communal style and common purpose. Like David Hockney, R. B. Kitaj, Peter Phillips and Derek Boshier, Jones found some of his inspiration in the mundane realities of his daily life, in his case for example in the bus paintings that referenced his daily commute on public transport. This is the case, too, both with Marriage Medal, 1963 and with the portfolio of eight lithographs titled Concerning Marriages, published in 1964, all of which were conceived in part as a personal celebration of his impending marriage in the latter year to Janet Bowen.

Playing with the idea of ‘marriages of style’ that Hockney, too, had explored in his 1962 painting The First Marriage (A Marriage of Styles) 1962 (Tate), Jones uses the two separate canvases of his Marriage Medal to clothe his imagery in distinct languages: the coloured striations of the ribbon itself paraphrasing the style of the American post-painterly abstractionist Morris Louis, the torsos of the male and female couple below brought to life in a loose and spontaneously improvised manner still bearing the traces of his early influences from such pioneers of abstraction as Wassily Kandinsky and Robert Delaunay. Marking one of the most important rites of passage in most of our lives – the loving union of two people in matrimony – the artist awards himself and his bride-to-be with a medal acknowledging their joint achievement. The overall format is an ingenious rephrasing of the parachutist paintings, the shapes simply turned upside down, the whole forming a larger-than-life depiction of an imaginary object. In presenting a two-dimensional painting not simply as the representation of a real thing, a graspable object, but as its literal physical embodiment, Jones also stepped in to the discussion of the canvas as object that had been initiated in the second half of the 1950s by the American proto-Pop artist Jasper Johns in his paintings of archery targets, maps and the American flag.

Jones’s work of the early 1960s was conditioned not only by his purely painterly concerns, steeped in modernist art history, but also by his readings in philosophy and psychology. In the writings of both Friedrich Nietzsche and C. G. Jung he found support for his embrace of the creative act as a fusion of male and female principles. This Marriage Medal stands as testimony, therefore, not only to a major event in his life but also to his conviction about art arising from a conjunction of ‘active’ and ‘contemplative’ qualities, the intellect and the emotions, the ‘anima’ and the ‘animus’. Complementing each other, these forces are seen to result through their synthesis in a life force that takes its strength from the interaction of male and female energies as equal partners.

We are very grateful to Marco Livingstone for preparing this catalogue entry.

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