Judge and Jury: A sensational attempt to make art and youth more compatible - After last year’s Sensation exhibition the Royal Academy is perfectly positioned to use this year’s Summer Exhibition to bring contemporary art to a wider audien

Last year I visited the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. It was the first time in about three years. I left feeling that most of the work on show was about as exciting as afternoon tea at my elderly aunt’s, and remembered why it had taken three years to revisit.

Last year I visited the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. It was

the first time in about three years. I left feeling that most of the

work on show was about as exciting as afternoon tea at my elderly

aunt’s, and remembered why it had taken three years to revisit.



I had also spent a considerable time wandering through the Sensation

exhibition last year and while most of the work was, as it suggests

complete sensationalism, it was enough to make me believe that the Royal

Academy had tried to communicate with an audience outside the stuffy,

aged art cognoscenti. It actually felt active and energised. While

Sensation was a quick-fix solution to financial problems, it was

enormously successful, placing the Academy in a new light.



The question now, however, is can the Royal Academy sustain this modern

and relevant approach to its art and encourage a younger audience?



The Royal Academy has an incredible location in the heart of Piccadilly

and a product that an increasingly sophisticated population is becoming

more interested in. Surely modernising this great institution is the

only way to go?



The biggest problem the Summer Exhibition generally faces is its

unattainability.



To a younger audience art is still seen as the remit of the wealthy and

older consumer.



If the Royal Academy is really serious in pursuing a younger audience

then it should take a marketing tip from some of the top international

fashion designers for its Summer Exhibition.



Create hype and awareness with your ’sensational’ pieces, but make it

attainable, while still aspirational. For instance, many of Armani’s

products can only be afforded by a tiny percentage of the population,

but most people can afford the branded T-shirts which gives them a piece

of a world they normally only aspire to.



There should be art within the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition that is

modern, contemporary and affordable. Take the launch of the Art

Supermarket at Harvey Nichols where customers could purchase modern

European art from pounds 90 to pounds 300. It worked well and it truly

touched chords with an audience who might never have been exposed to

such work.



With the Summer Exhibition the Royal Academy has a major opportunity to

kick the snobbery out of art. Let’s hope its stab at modernity doesn’t

stop at the Sensation exhibition and that we see some more new academics

showing this year - although with a menu of Chagall, Picasso and Monet

ahead, it looks more like a case of what sensation?



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