The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition seems to be more about art than exhibitionism this year. At the preview party a couple of weeks ago, everyone was talking about Christopher Le Brun’s ‘Salon hang’ in Gallery III. This style of display is named after the Salon Carre of the Louvre, where, from the eighteenth century onwards, the gallery walls were painted dark green or red, and filled to the rafters with the new art of their day. Until the late 1880s, it was the custom for Royal Academy shows to have their works displayed in this manner, in contrast to the modern ‘white cube’ format.
I didn’t notice much evidence of figurative art coming imminently back into fashion. However, there were some indications that the contemporary art market has turned a corner and is looking back in time for its inspiration. There have been plenty of detailed reviews already, but here’s a selection of photographs from the party and a few lines from ShopCurious:
William Norris & Company’s food was suitably arty, and presented in dinky little trays. There was a curiosity cabinet style display of antique kitchen and glassware - or was that an exhibit? I also wondered if a tiny fork I spotted on the floor was part of the show?
The lovely ice lolly girls in the courtyard added a soupcon of retro flavour to the evening.
Arty folk always manage to look curiously cool – there were musicians in Missoni, and artists in... Jasper Conran – and lots of exceptionally well turned out types. I posed in my vintage Vivienne Westwood dress beside Jeff Koons’ Colouring Book, made from high chromium stainless steel with transparent colour coating (the sculpture, not my dress). And next to Olu Shobowale's Coffin to Die For... And with Tracey Emin.
There’s money in art, but is it worth the asking price? Would you pay £90,000 for Allen Jones’ Think Pink – a hot pink mannequin in a crumpled blue wrapper? Or £60,000 for Martin Creed’s Work No. 998 – a pile of retro style chairs?
The one piece everyone seemed to like, Keith Tyson’s Deep Impact, wasn’t for sale. I was rather taken by John Bellany’s Homage to Michael Spens, which provided plenty of food for thought. Fellow Royal Academician and exhibitor, Hughie O’Donoghue, admired the triptych with me, commenting that it reminded him of Max Beckmann’s work.
Simon Leahy-Clark’s Library II was created from newspaper cuttings on canvas. And fans of pop art are likely to be attracted to David Mach’s Mini Marilyns, which are made from matches.
I don’t usually spend much time in the architecture room, but there was one piece I absoloutely loved – and I’m not sure who's responsible for this fabulously futuristic model? I adore the organic, flowing lines and the way the wood is layered in terraces.
Whatever anyone else says, it’s always worth seeing things for yourself. You’ve got until 15th August to visit the show. So do let me know what you think.
Curiculum Vitae Jeffry Zebua
5 months ago