The RA summer show in record time

Out of respect for one of its recently deceased Academicians, Leonard Rosomon (1913– 2012), the Royal Academy skied one

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of his best works in the corner of an obscure gallery at this year’s Summer Exhibition (until August 12th). His Committee Meeting, Royal Academy (above), 1979-1984, was on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, where it has probably never been on display. We have in England scores of public galleries and yet is there one with a curator who has the wit to stage a retrospective exhibition of a senior artist like Rosomon? Probably not. For those with an eye on State Art advancement there is no career mileage in such a show, in fact it would probably end any hope of serious preferment. Yet in the last two years alone Tracey Emin, represented in this exhibition by childish scribbles unworthy of even the fridge door, has had three major exhibitions in public galleries. State Art needs a clear-out and re-staffing with individual thinkers.

Everything in Burlington House this year seemed even more dense and off-putting on the wall than usual, so The Jackdaw’s representative allocated one second on average to each of the 1,474 works before heading off elsewhere in search of art which looked as though it was loved by someone enough to hang it sensitively.

Highlights spotted at speed were a bold Kiefer and a powerful portrait maquette of footballer Stan Cullis by James Butler, the quality of whose modelling always stands out even when exhibited in sculpture galleries more akin to a jumble sale than an exhibition of serious art. One sculptor phoned the Jackdaw to remonstrate at this shocking treatment and said he would not have allowed his work to be exhibited so contemptuously. Another wrote a despairing unsigned letter saying that the atrocious hanging of the sculpture was no better than most of the trash selected deserved. Everyone else was represented by the stuff they are usually represented by. There will undoubtedly have been other good work hidden away but life’s too short to search it out among such mountains of amateurish material.

Ah, one interesting development was the removal of the small pictures from the far end into the largest gallery. The irony in this was that the vacated gallery was then used to show one work instead of


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250. It was a video of someone scraping out “a modern piece for cello”, of the sort one walks straight past in the Tate. Played this crap by torturers you’d be singing like Placido Domingo inside three seconds, telling them your grandmother was Osama bin Laden’s loyal lieutenant in Eccles.

Robert Graves
Epitaph on an Unfortunate Artist

He found a formula for drawing comic rabbits:
This 502 Bad Gateway formula for drawing comic rabbits paid,
So in the end he could not change the tragic habits
This formula for drawing comic rabbits made.

David Lee

The Jackdaw June 2012