Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Summer Exhibition @ The Royal Academy

Wall to wall art at the Summer Exhibition
On Friday night I was invited to a curators talk at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2014. It was my first time at the Summer Exhibition and I loved the experience, learning a lot along the way about how the exhibition is put together.

Firstly, I didn't know that it was the largest open submission for artwork in the world and they received over 12,000 entries which were whittled down by a committee to the 1,262 works that were on display. It can't be an easy experience to select, anonymously, which works make the grade or how to hang them to make a cohesive exhibition.

Secondly, I didn't know that all of the artwork in the exhibition was for sale. The gallery take a commission of 30% on all sales, which with my limited knowledge of the Sydney art market, it is pretty reasonable. I thought that a lot of the artwork was quite reasonable too with a lot of works under £1,000 and even more under £2,000.

Thirdly, it was interesting to hear how the Summer Exhibition has evolved over the last ten years, responding to the rise of Art Fairs which have been booming in London. I wouldn't have thought the Royal Academy would be affected by the likes of the Affordable Art Fair, but having visited the exhibition it makes sense that they have to respond to each other.
For Piet's Sake II
We were promised a different experience when we went into the galleries. I thought it would be overwhelming to see so many works in a comparatively small space. However, you find yourself scanning the walls picking out what you like and what you don't. It was good fun thumbing though the pocket sized list of works to see the prices of different paintings. Becks showed she has expensive tastes favouring Hughie O'Donoghue's The Quadrilateral at a cool £60,000.

The galleries had a light hearted feel and on several occasions I found myself talking about works with complete strangers. The Friday night bar probably helped.

What I did like, a lot, was the above collage called For Piet's Sake II by Phil Shaw. A series of books about Mondrian with different coloured spines arranged to look like a Mondrian painting. The original had gone but there are sixty prints available. Despite the G&T I held back on the night, but I'm still thinking about it......

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