Review: Is This Year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Any Good?

Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 16 months ago
Review: Is This Year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Any Good? Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts 3
Michael Craig-Martin isn't curating this year but his works are still present. (c) Stephen White

The Royal Academy of Arts' ever popular Summer Exhibition is back again — a strange hybrid of art fair and curated exhibition, featuring many established artists and a healthy dose of young up and comers.

With most of the 1,200+ works for sale, this year's show has been curated by Royal Academician Richard Wilson. But can he put his own signature to the proceedings, like Michael Craig-Martin and Cornelia Parker before him?

We start promisingly with Ron Arad's giant metal spike surveying us in the courtyard. It moves around with a camera on the end, and it's very disconcerting.

The architecture room is good as always, with plenty of concepts featuring radical building and structure designs. This year it's much better located, in a side gallery rather than in the middle. This way it feels less disruptive to the flow of fine art.

Gilbert and George have a large scale work but it's the bones in the foreground that caught our attention. (c) Stephen White

The photography is particularly strong this year; we really liked the post-apocalyptic visions by Suzanne Moxhay. And there is a dedicated room to the excellent water tower series by Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Once again it's amazing how spacious the exhibition feels, despite there being so many works on display.

Richard Wilson has done a solid job in trying to create order from the artistic chaos, but unlike his predecessors he hasn't imbued this year's exhibition with a unique stamp to make it stand out.

The Summer Exhibition is on at Royal Academy of Arts until 21 August. Tickets are £12 for adults, concessions available.

The galleries look spacious even though there are over 1,200 works on display. (c) Stephen White

Last Updated 08 June 2016