The RA Summer Exhibition 2011: Priceless or Still Provincial?

Exhibits Jul 09, 2011

Inside the show, the first thing that struck me was the hanging sculpture of Antony Gormley and Tony Cragg's sculpture. There were several rooms of paintings from amateur and well-known artists and the fact that they were placed side by side was a visual test for anyone who likes art. The words “I Like this, I don't like that” echoed in the room. I suggest that you see the RA Summer Exhibition twice. First, go there without carrying the “List of Works Catalogue” and just let your eye take you to the artwork that appeals to you. You'll be surprised to know it's still the same people you've always liked.

Jeff Koons Hon RA, Colouring Book 1997-2005 Aluminum. 567.7 x 323 x 335cm. Copyright Jeff Koons. Photo: John Bodkin/DawkinsColour

Alistair Sooke of the Telegraph sums up how the RA show has fared for years:

“Today, suspicion persists that it remains a safe haven for traditional painters who take the “common-sense” view that a picture of a tree must resemble a tree. Yet it strikes me that denigrating the Summer Exhibition is a peculiarly self-flagellating British trait. Nobody could claim that it is cool or cutting-edge. But it is the largest open-submission contemporary art exhibition in the world: this year, the hanging committee vetted more than 12,000 entries from 27 countries.”
-Alistair Sooke
Installation view of the Lecture Room in progress. Courtesy Lisa Milroy and Alan Cristea Gallery. Photo: John Bodkin

I didn't feel that way at all probably because it was my first time to come to the RA show and I have nothing to compare it to. It did not give me the impression that it was pretending to be a major exhibition anyway. It was however, an opportunity to see upcoming artists and be able to buy affordable art if you want to become a future collector.There were prints available for as low as 125 pounds, how great is that?

Installation view of Gallery III. Photo: John Bodkin

Whether the RA show is useless or boring for some, it has served to confirm to myself that I'm still moved by the greats and other newcomers in my life – Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Tony Cragg, Anselm Kiefer and Edward de Vall to whom B introduced me to. Most of the things I loved are not being sold according to the catalogue and were only there for display. (Even if they were, I couldn't afford them anyway.) B says my taste is very expensive. I told her that's  not true at all because in reality, my taste is priceless.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2011

Other artworks to see in the RA Show:

Bill Woodrow RA Pillarbox Invigilator. Copyright The Artist. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Cindy Sherman Hon RA_Untitled #472. 2008, colour photograph, 169.9 x 127cm, edition 3-6. Courtesy of the artist, Metro Pictures and Spruth Magers Berlin London
Gary Hume RA, The Cradle. 2011, gloss on aluminium, 196 x 198 x 2.2 cm. Copyright Gary Hume, Photographer Steve White

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Tuesday Gutierrez

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