I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy this week. It was hot this week, very hot, and the Royal Academy had an air conditioning system. There is no doubt this enhanced my experience. It was a blessed relief in fact. This is the first part of a series of blogs on the works that made an impression on me.
It has to be said that the initial impression of the exhibition is not good. There are two reasons for this. The first is the sheer number of exhibits is at first overwhelming. You are left with just an impression of brightly coloured nonsense. The second is the first room, which is a rotunda from which the other rooms radiate out. This year, as last year, it was filled with trash including the odd and garish photo of a glamour model in a frilly white dress. After wandering around a few times though my eyes began to adjust and I could differentiate the pieces I liked from, well, everything else.
The sculpture was poor and I shall speak no more about them, particularly not the feeble sexually explicit ones.
There is a strategy I use going round the exhibition. The trick is to walk through a room one way then another. Walking around in different directions and different pieces catch your eye. Some of them reward closer examination but some of them disappoint. Commercially speaking the show has been a success. Red dots abound and many of the editions of prints had sold out.
I had also done a preliminary research. The RA have added a very good facility to their website which allows you to peruse the paintings. There are over 1000 but I went through the first 500 making a note of the artists I like. Some art works are better in real life, some are worse. Ken Howard for example, good as he is, is much better in photographed form than in real life in my view.
As I went round I circled in the useful catalogue that is given out those works I liked. It is strangely it reassuring when you keep choosing the same artist again and again. Gave me confidence in my own taste.
That's it for this week. The theme I have chosen is those artists for whom more than one work caught my eye. They are all RA which is perhaps not surprising as they can exhibit as of right and can therefore get more works in than us mere mortals. All in there own way very good works. I will go onto architecture and others in the next couple of weeks but I will leave you now with Annie Whiles The Areoplane (Largest Dog). It was amusing to see people do a double take of this and its partner (Smallest Dog) as they went past. I like this.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.