The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition opened last month, reaching its 247th year with 100s of (and now over 1,000) pieces of art having being displayed each year since 1769. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the opening night for the last 5 years (thanks to work), and this year was by far my favourite year.
The Summer Exhibition is an annual open exhibition where artists from around the world can submit entries including paintings, prints, drawings, architectural designs and sculptures for public display. It’s down to the Summer Exhibition Selection and Hanging Committee to choose from 1,000s of entries for display at the exhibition throughout June, July and August. Many of the pieces displayed can also be bought by the public.
Over the years I’ve attended I’ve explored the regal gallery covered from floor to ceiling with 100s of different pieces, the sheer number of pieces can feel a bit overwhelming to take in on one trip. Whilst the selection included contemporary art, the atmosphere felt much more traditional to me. So this year was a complete colourful turnaround.
The staircase certainly gives you a hint of what’s to come.
An art installation in itself, the staircase was created by Jim Lambie and made from hundreds of pieces of vinyl tape. (You can watch a time lapse of it being installed here.)
Once we’d climbed the bright staircase (which I can guarantee you’ll struggle to resist instagramming), we were greeted by the first major sculpture.
Matthew Derbyshire’s, Doryphoros.
As you look at it from different angles the colours subtly change.
Based on an Ancient Greek statue but made with modern materials, it brings together contemporary and classic quite nicely.
We were then drawn to our left by the bold pink Gallery III.
Image credit – Jac Riding
As someone who’s attention has been known fade in an art gallery or museum, and at an event where I’ve often been distracted by finding the best canapés (an art in itself to anyone who loves food!), the colourful background really helped bring it together and hold my attention.
It’s rare that you ever attend an exhibition where the price tag is provided, so as we moved through the galleries we had quite a lot of fun trying to guess how much they cost.
Of course, we chose our favourites on the way and these were a few of mine from the evening.
I struggled to take note of all of the ones I liked the most at the time, and even take in all of the ones on show, so I took a look at the Summer Exhibition Explorer and chose a few more to give you a better idea of the art you’ll find.
Of course, you can always just enjoy the Royal Academy building itself.
It’s one of my favourite courtyards in London.
Entry to the Summer Exhibition is £13.50 per adult. The Royal Academy is open until 16 August. Saturday to Thursday 10am to 6pm, and on Friday 10am to 10pm. From what I remember of previous years they’ve also added a few late night openings as the exhibition draws to an end.