The partner of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich today apologised after she was pictured sitting on a chair designed to resemble a half-naked black woman.
Dasha Zhukova, 32, who has two children with the Chelsea owner, was caught up in controversy after an online magazine published a photo of her perched on the artwork.
Buro 24/7 used the image of Ms Zhukova yesterday, which was Martin Luther King Day, to illustrate an unrelated interview about the former model’s new magazine, Garage.
Ms Zhukova said: “This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an artwork intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics.
“I utterly abhor racism, and would like to apologise to anyone who has been offended by this image.”
The artwork by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard is one of a series that “reinterprets art historical works from artist Allen Jones as a commentary on gender and racial politics”, said a spokesman for Ms Zhukova
Miroslava Duma, the blog’s editor, also posted the photo on Instagram.
Duma quickly deleted the picture from Instagram and cropped out the chair on Buro 24/7.
Campaign group Organizing for Women’s Liberation criticised the picture after it circulated on the internet.
The chair is similar in style to a famous piece by Londn pop artist Allen Jones, whose 1969 fibreglass work “Chair” was made to resemble a white woman.
Today Mr Jones said: “It’s obviously a copy of my sculpture and I supposed I should be flattered.
“I never meant the chair to be sat on.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen someone using it as actual furniture and I think it would be rather uncomfortable.”
Jones’s original piece is part of a series of female figures as furniture also including Hatstand and Table.
One cast is in the Tate collection.
The 76-year-old Royal Academician said his Clerkenwell studio has since been filled with hundreds of homages to it.
The artist has in the past been accused of misogyny, but said the chair sculpture aimed to show the human form could be “functional”.