The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy is an ever-present part of the London art calendar, having been held every year for all 246 years that the Royal Academy has been in existence. It never fails to draw the crowds who attend either to see some some big names or are looking to snag a bargain from an emerging artist.
In previous years our criticism has been that the Royal Academician’s works have been a bit lacklustre and the emerging artists have been the ones to shine. This year there has been an about face with some great works by Academicians including the ever reliable David Mach with his dollar bill made from playing cards, Emma Stibbon’s black and white landscapes and Fiona Rae’s explosions of colour.
We usually spot a few emerging artists to like but this year is a little thin on the ground, though Ilsun Maeng’s x-ray vixen was one highlight. The architecture room is once again a success including a model of Thomas Heatherwick’s proposal for a London garden bridge.
The real winner this year is the curation and the works have much more room to breathe. The exhibition has taken a step back from the floor to ceiling hang of old, though a few rooms still feel congested — what’s surprising is the more spacious arrangement still contains over 1,200 works.
Artist Cornelia Parker has curated a room with a theme of only black and white works, and this was our favourite room in the exhibition. Once visitors have been overwhelmed by all the art they’ve seen, they can chill out in a room with one of James Turrell’s brilliant pulsating screens.
We’ve seen the summer show for the last four years and the inventive and more spacious curation means this is our favourite edition of the exhibition yet.
Summer Exhibition 2014 is on at the Royal Academy of Arts until 17 August. Tickets are £12 for adults, concessions available.
For more art to see, check out our June listings.