Sunday, 16 June 2019

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2019


Along to Burlington House, for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Always interesting, and a great leveller, with its down-selection from 15,000 to around 1,000 art exhibits, with unknown aspiring artists rubbing frames with Royal Academicians. Last year the show was a little subversive, curated by Grayson Perry, and this year it returned to a more traditional format, under the eye of Jock McFadyen. It also seemed to be even more packed with art than usual, with the entrance area crammed with animal, painted, sculpted and even a tigerish tunnocks tea-cake (although I was bemused to see it also displayed M&S branding.

With this exhibition, I find myself walking around looking for the items that catch my eye, rather than studying them all in depth. There's so much on offer, filtered by the selection committee, and then curated into the rooms with their different themes. Inevitably I found myself gravitating towards some of the anchor points. A Wim Wenders street scene, Anselm Kiefer's unknown island in a treeless world.

There were some references to Brexit, perhaps less than I'd expected, but I suppose the political edit had probably also been performed as part of the curation. Recognise Jeremy Deller in this gallery? And in another, there was Bob and Roberta Smith curation of cosmic illustrations.

One of the more lasting images, for me, was of Parliament(voices in your head), represented by crows, picking through old newspapers.

I'll always pick up the small guide catalogue too, which features maybe one-third of the images. There's all of them listed in the show guide, a price list which ranges from £150 to £70-80,000 and beyond. And yes, it is impossible to gauge the prices with any accuracy.
Of course, that is not the point. There's a value beyond the island in the democratisation of the art on display.

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