The Royal Academy's annual Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition. Now in its 242nd year, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.
Not too long ago I saw a little documentary about Mary Cane-Honeysett, a London artist who makes realistic paintings of the rapidly disappearing London that she grew up with. It was an interesting show, which featured Mary making one of her paintings and submitting it to the Royal Academy, only to have it turned down. She then goes to the Exhibition and sees all these odd works of art that she doesn't understand as well as works similar to her own-and she doesn't understand why her paintings are always turned away.
Just as it can be argued that there has not been any real work done in Physics since about 1910, it can be argued that there has been no real art since about 1910 either. Mary's art is old style art, real world, representational reality art, not a random group of rocks or paint spilled onto a raw canvas. So at least part of the charm of the Summer Exhibition is the old saw-Yes, but is it Art?
Being an artist means always facing rejection, until you are accepted, and then you can pretty much do anything. It's that whole getting accepted bit that seems to elude most people. So the whole idea of an Open Exhibition is wonderful, even if it does require a fee and there is still a ton of reject involved. I've always been one of those people who walk around and wonder what the point of most modern art is. I tend to like Modern works of art long after they have ceased to be modern. I'm a big fan of Roy Lichtenstein, now that he has been quietly dead these past few years.
Things You Never Knew About The Summer Exhibition-
Over £70,000 prize money, including the £25,000 Charles Wollaston Award, is awarded each year at the Summer Exhibition.
The Summer Exhibition was first held in a warehouse on Pall Mall from 1769 to 1779.The hanging of one Gallery by one Academician was first tried in 1976 when Peter Blake filled Gallery II with work by leading contemporary artists of the day, such as Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, RB Kitaj, Joe Tilson, Ivor Abrahams and Norman Adams. All later became Royal Academicians.
There is something fun about being overwhelmed by walls filled with works of art. It's an old world kind of feeling, but then, London is a bit old world, isn't it? Is it art? Well, if The Royal Academy says it is, then it must be.