Posts Tagged ‘RA Schools’

There are some things in this country that are quintessentially British and come around on the annual calendar with seemingly ever increasing speed – The Royal Garden Parties, for instance, Wimbledon lawn tennis and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

The latter opened for this summer season last week, so on Sunday we toddled off to London to take a look. Arriving at Burlington House in Piccadilly, flags heralded the celebrated event. The first exhibit can be seen through the open gates to the courtyard. A massive steel structure consisting of different sized tetrahedrons welded together, this sculpture by Conrad Shawcross is entitled “The Dappled Light of the Sun,” which is all very well but as we wandered underneath this colossal skeleton on an overcast morning, the artist’s intention I feel was all but lost.

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Burlington House, Piccadilly

The Summer Exhibition is the largest open submission exhibition in the world and has been staged by the Royal Academy every year since 1769 without interruption. It provides an unrivalled platform for established and emerging artists to display and sell their work. The Academy takes a commission from every work sold and this, together with ticket sales for the event, go towards funding post-graduates at the RA Schools.

The RA Schools was founded in 1769, and remains independent. This enables the Schools to offer the only three-year postgraduate programme in Europe. The pluralisation comes about because when it was first founded, students were required to master a number of different artistic elements in a particular order. Each element was known as a separate ‘School’. Today The RA is more flexible in its expectation but the original name has stuck.

There are around one thousand pieces on display, each having been through an arduous selection procedure, the first of which is done digitally on-line. If the artist is fortunate enough to go through to the next round, their artwork is put before a selection panel consisting of Royal Academicians.

Art work is priced from £100 to nearly £100,000 – and many of the exhibits were already sporting a red dot, signifying its ‘sold’ status. I loved this tongue-in-cheek work by Cornelia Parker – and the fact that it had got through the selection process. Just shows that artists have a sense of humour. I wonder who bought it though.

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Stolen Thunder III

Upon entry you get given a little ‘List of Works’ handbook containing the artists’ names, titles and prices of their work. I thought it would be entertaining to waft around, pick out the pieces I liked and check the provenance afterwards. Interestingly, most of the paintings I picked were by known contemporary artists which probably says more about me than the state of British modern art but there you go.

So here are a few of my chosen miscellany, sporting titles only. See if you can pick out the most and least expensive of my selection.

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Colony – January

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The old house dreams it is still there

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Mississippi River Blues

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Flower Window

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Afternoon Skaters

The show this year was curated by Michael Craig-Martin, a Royal Academician. His vision to paint the walls of one of the largest rooms a bright pink may shock some but I think it brought the hung paintings alive and complemented the gilding on the ceiling, showing off the classical architecture of this building in an innovative way. The Central Hall was also painted in a vivid peacock turquoise which looked opulent and fantastic.

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Wonderful pink walls. Those neon bubbles are by Michael Landy and are one of the few items not for sale.

In previous years the exhibits have been crowded together, almost jostling for position creating a chaotic, busy sensation. This year the whole effect is of calm but stylish order and while ideally I’d like the gallery to myself, by going early we avoided the crowds.

The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy runs until the 16 August and is open every day from 10am till 6pm.

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