Review of the RA Summer Exhibition 2018: How to Make Art Close to the Public
This year must be special and remarkable in the history of the Summer Exhibition. As the world’s oldest open submission art exhibition – which means that anyone can put their artwork to be considered for inclusion. In its 250th year anniversary, this year’s exhibition committee just put innovative curating idea – they broke the rank between professional artists and amateurs. All the artworks were handpicked and hang on the colorful walls no matter who are the artists, and there are no highlights either. The curators would like to see the audience's reactions as they say, “with over 1200 works on display, you will see art you love, art you hate, art that leaves you thinking and art that simply puts a smile on your face.”
Critics have praised its new way of curating and use of heavy colors as backgrounds. “By mixing established artists with ‘actual garbage: talentless, throwaway rubbish, a lot of it apparently made by jokers after getting home from the pub.” says by The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones. “This is the most liberating exhibition of new art I have seen for ages, because it obliterates definitions of what is good or bad, archaic or modern, and invites us to sample all the ways people can use a thing called ‘art’ to express feeling and ideas.” (quotes from BBC News)
For all the artwork displayed, the artist is the seller of the work and the Royal Academy takes a 30% commission on all ‘offers to purchase’. Also, the Summer Exhibition charges ticket fee from its most of visitors.
Different from other national museums or galleries, the artworks in the exhibition is for sale. The price of the work would not be shown next to the frame. Each visitor will receive a pamphlet at the entrance with the corresponding number of work and its price.
The RA has developed its online gallery as well, that the art collectors can simply shop their favorite artwork online. Just like browse a department store page – RA online gallery has a sector of “art under £500” – which may attract more potential buyers and those who are new to the art market. Also, noteworthily, print features a lot in this years’ exhibition. People can buy printings online and in the gallery with a nice affordable price which is a symbol of art market is getting close to the common public. This is encouraged by the RA, because the visitors are invited to buy RA’s new publication “A buyer’s Guide to Prints” at the entrance of the exhibition.
Yes, the traditional art critic organization such as RA is turning more and more commercial. This is not a bad thing because the promotion of art or artists never goes along without public’s attention and passion for discovering/buying new arts. The 250 years old RA Summer Exhibition has just successfully transformed itself to a trending topic in the art world – art branding is happening right inside of the galleries in the Royal Academy of Arts. Red dotted works are roaring like future masterpieces.