The world's largest open-submission exhibition has a colourful makeover for 2015.
The year is 1769: James Cook lands in Tahiti, Napoleon Bonaparte is born in France and, in London, the newly-founded Royal Academy of Arts invites ‘artists of merit’ to submit paintings to its first annual open exhibition. If you’ve seen Timothy Spall’s ‘Mr Turner’ pimp his seascape to piss off John Constable in Mike Leigh’s 2014 film, you’ll have a sense of how lively this monster of a show has been over the centuries. These days you’re unlikely to witness fisticuffs over the framed prints but a spirit of competition still wafts through the oldest open-submission show in the world, now in its 249th year.
This year's show is overseen by Royal Academician Eileen Cooper. There are over 1,200 artworks splooged all over the walls of Burlington House – as ever, by big names and recent graduates alike. Some of it’s a total mess, some of it’s totally great. It’s packed full of art, and – more than anything – it’s just an amazing opportunity to spot new talent alongside art world megastars like Anish Kapoor, Cornelia Parker, Yinka Shonibare and countless others.
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I'm an Australian living in London and I go and see a lot of world class art in this city. But I have to say the Summer Exhibition was so disappointing! This exhibition has been going for 247 years! That is astounding. But it isn't worth the money to get in. It's a hyped up jumble sale! There were a few moments of brilliance such as Anish Kapoor work otherwise it didn't do the artists any justice. The Royal Academy does such great shows and the Summer Exhibition is a let down. I won't be seeing it next year.