Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

It's that time of the year again when thousands of artists attempt to get their work displayed with the great and good of the Royal Academy.

There has been an interesting program on TV which follows two artists as they try to get their work into the exhibition. One was the well known Vic Reeves, the other was a landscape artist named Rod Perry. This was Vic's first attempt and Rod's twenty first attempt. Rod had a drawing accepted back in the eighties, but has not been able to get any other artwork accepted for the past twenty years.

Now, I've been confused time again by about what is art and what isn't and I thought that I could be guided by the good taste of the Royal Academy selection commitee. How wrong could I be? I'm back where I was, and am confused as ever.

Rod Perry paints on location. He paints big and bold and spent two weeks in Ireland, living in a van, and he really throws himself into his work. Hopefully, I'll be able to provide some links to some of his work. Sorry, couldn't find any online. In one painting, he wanted to paint in the dark of the night. You see him, painting in the open air by hurricane lamp wearing a hard hat with lights on. It was so cold that his brushes were frozen and brittle. The resulting painting were stunning abstracted landscapes which to my mind should have been accepted without exception, but for some reason were rejected.

Vic Reeves, on the other hand had three paintings he wanted to enter. One was a rather clumsily painted horses head with one large eye. It had human ears, an ill fitting toupee and the words "Wotcha Cock" scrawled on it. It was absolute rubbish. The other paintings were of a similar standard and believe it or not, the Royal Academy selection commitee accepted them for exhibition.

I am stunned, confused and just don't know what to think anymore. Royal Academy! What on earth is going on? For goodness sake, we normally look to you for commonsense and guidance. You've really thrown a spanner in the works. Where on earth is art going?

One interesting thing I learnt. Monet, Rodin and Constable all had work rejected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Just shows you what the selection commitees know.


  1. Hi, John. Your description made me think of what the Whitney Biennial has become in NY. What started out as a survey of contemporary art being made in the US, has now become something more aimed to amuse or shock. The curators of these major shows I think sometimes give in to the political pressure from the "art world in crowd" to artificially create an avant garde where in fact none exists in the real world of art-making.

    We real artists, just carry on in our studios. :-)


  2. Hi John and Michael, I watched this post for days going without comment and was tempted to wade in but thought better of it or I'd quickly get over my head. Suffice to say many years ago I became an art-atheist, a non-believer in the concept, and my goodness it simplifies things as I worry much less about what the mullahs, bishops and high priests of the art world think is art.

  3. Thanks Michael and Clive. Clive you've cracked it. I love that term art atheist and I hope you don't mind if I become one also?

    I've tried so hard to respect the so called respectable elite but I have had enough.

    I am an art atheist, or could that be an artheist?


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