Review of '250th Summer Exhibition'

Royal Academy of Arts

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/summer-exhibition-2018

I was not sure what to expect from the Summer Exhibition as I have never attended but in this it's 250th anniversary (yes, 250 years) I really had to go and am very glad I did.

Big Display in Wohl Central Hall - #49 "Royal Valkyrie"

The Summer Exhibition is a traditional summer show at the Royal Academy that features works of art hung by, generally, a famous artist which is this year Grayson Perry. The pieces are selected and hung of Royal Academicians and are all for sale which include some well known names including Grayson himself (several riotously coloured items including one astounding piece in the print rooms on the 2nd floor, North Gallery) and David Hockney (some amazing large murals in the “Lecture Room”) but a number of items are from general entries to the exhibition. In told this year's show contains 1352 pieces so as you can imagine many of the rooms are simply a riot of art.

Hall VIII

This exhibition also happens to correspond with the completion of some of the biggest renovation ever in the academy (linking Burlington Gardens and Burlington House) and includes rooms in the second floor of Burlington House (featuring prints) as well as a free display of somewhat quirky pieces from the exhibition in Burlington Gardens in “The McAulay Gallery”. So, the relatively small entrance fee includes quite a large amount of art to see with the provided small-format 200-page catalogue indispensable for figuring out what you are looking at with each piece numbered but not labelled in the galleries.

Hall III

The general layout of the exhibition is amazing with whimsy at every turn and colour featuring prominently which, I suppose, is not surprising coming from Perry. The walls are crammed with pieces so that a long time is spent just trying to take it all in and make sense of what you are seeing. Obviously pieces higher on the wall are more difficult to make out and often things are just drowned out by their surroundings but it is still an amazing sight…

The MacAulay Gallery - Burlington Gardens - "Everything Must Go"

The prices of the pieces varied with the single Bansky on display listed for sale at “£350m” (#221, “Vote to Love”) but most are within reach of many people an, in particular, the prints. Any piece that has been purchased has a red dot on it (many have several presumeably meaning there is a draw for who walks away with it) for which the purchaser has to pay a deposit to the RA but final payment is made to the artist (with a small commission of the sale returning to the RA).

Gift Shop

I would suggest visitors just wander and take it all in. It is truly an amazing display of a wide variety of art from the classic to modern genres from absurdist to realist, this has them all. Absolutely astounding. This is a popular show so expect any time you visit to be busy but try not to let that bother you…take your time to look at everything.

If you are feeling awash with cash be sure to make note of any pieces you may be interested in taking home…who knows, you might just be in with a chance!


This show is also run alongside a separate exhibition “The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition” that explores the history of the exhibition and features a number of the art from over the years.

Rating:

Review Date: 2018-07-18



Royal Academy of Arts

Location: London (England)

Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD

Public Transport: TUBE Piccadilly Circus TUBE Green Park

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7300 8000

URL: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/

The Royal Academy of Arts or simply “the Academy” is a venerable institution located only a stones throw from Piccadilly Circus that puts on a range of shows from various artists including one or two major shows a year. It is worth getting on the mailing list for advance notice of upcoming shows. Their magnificent building is accessed off of Piccadilly just opposite Fortnum & Mason - Pass through the courtyard (which often has large works of art on display) then enter the main galleries through the doors. There is a cloakroom on the left but it is quite small so they recommend small items only.