Summer Exhibition 2013
09 Jun - 17 Aug 2013
Photo: Benedict Johnson. © Royal Academy of Arts.
9 June — 17 August 2013
Displaying more than 1,000 works in all styles and media, including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, architectural models and film.
Now in its 245th year, the Summer Exhibition remains a much anticipated highlight of the arts calendar, serving as a unique window on to all areas of the contemporary art world. It is the world’s largest open-submission exhibition, displaying more than 1,000 works in all styles and media, including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, architectural models and film.
All works are fastidiously selected by a panel of celebrated artists and architects from across the disciplines, and it is their task to narrow down more than 10,000 entries to those that go before the public. The majority of the works are also available to buy, offering an unrivalled opportunity to own work by high profile and emerging artists.
An Introduction to the 245th Summer Exhibition
By Humphrey Ocean RA
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition can be bewildering. Chosen and hung by artists, it is a testing ground unmatched by anything anywhere else in the world on this scale and of this quality. Forget exhibitions as you know them. Here is the mind, fired up and ready to go, in more variations than you are used to coming across under one roof. Every single artist submits work knowing it may be shown in conditions that cannot be pre-determined. This is something of a gamble and requires confidence, but most artists can handle that. The pay-off is they know their work will be shown in some of the most beautiful day-lit galleries in the world. Also, not a lot of people know that the money made from the exhibition goes towards the Royal Academy Schools, in other words towards the next generation.
I suggest it best to look at the show as process rather than the more usual form of curatorial choice. It is an unpredictable sampling of how people are thinking and, in turn, visitors think and decide for themselves and that adds to the danger. If you are still perplexed, don’t worry. There are now, thank goodness, so many places on earth where art is clearly and spaciously laid out, which allows for contemplative thought, and that may be more your thing. This is an alternative where every summer for the last 244 years artists play unsafe in a fantastic context. Internationally known artists and complete unknowns sit side by side showing what they are up to now. Try it.
For this year’s exhibition the celebrated artist El Anatsui has adorned the façade of Burlington House with one of the largest wall-hanging sculptures he has ever created. This large-scale bespoke piece, created for the Royal Academy, measures 15 x 23m and is entitled TSIATSIA - searching for connection. It will hang from the balustrade of Burlington House for the duration of the Summer Exhibition. The sculpture is an intricate, shimmering, metallic ‘wall-hanging’ created from aluminium bottle-tops, printing plates and roofing sheets, amongst other materials.
Grayson Perry RA is showing his series of six tapestries entitled The Vanity of Small Differences, telling the story of the rise and demise of Tim Rakewell, inspired by Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress.
A room dedicated to portraiture includes photography and works on paper, along with new works by Frank Auerbach, Tom Phillips RA, Michael Craig-Martin RA and Alex Katz. This focus acknowledges the historic role that portraiture has played at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and the enduring importance of this genre within artistic practice today.
Further highlights include a new large-scale sculpture by Anthony Caro RA and artwork by the newly elected Royal Academicians Ron Arad, Sean Scully and Jock McFadyen.
The Summer Exhibition draws praise for being a “microcosm of British democracy” (The Daily Telegraph) – hanging the work of exceptionally talented newcomers alongside that of globally acclaimed artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Grayson Perry RA and Anish Kapoor RA, making it a truly unique spectacle in the art world.