Summer Exhibition

I was asked to give the Annual Arts Lecture at Hurlingham last night and was encouraged to talk about the Summer Exhibition, which I have never done before.   I kept on getting in a muddle between ‘we’ and ‘they’, because it is we, the Royal Academy, who put it on and they, the Royal Academicians, who arrange, oversee and orchestrate it.   But I hope I managed to convey something of a) its extraordinarily long history b) the continuity in its system of organisation and ethos and b) the curious tension which has existed forever between its extreme democracy, in that anyone can enter and does, and its extreme selectivity, in that it has always been dominated not just in its process but also in what it shows by the relatively small number of RAs.

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