Yesterday I was among the first to enter the much renewed and extended premises of the Royal Academy as they were opened to Friends as part of its 250th anniversary celebrations. The immediate impression was that they were not ready to open, as numerous workmen in hi-viz jackets slid in and out of secret doors in boarded up spaces. Clearly a visit specially to look at the enormous spread of new space is required but meanwhile it looked impressive.
I was actually there to look at the Tacita Dean exhibition, much publicised and hyped, called ‘Landscape’. To be fair, I did not view the video which lasted 56 minutes; the rest occupied 10 minutes of my time. Obviously, I was not ‘getting’ something about Dean’s interpretation of ‘landscape’, and of course I would not cavil at her right to call what she put on display ‘art’ if she thinks it is. I just found it a fairly nugatory collection of bits and pieces.
I now look forward to the Summer Exhibition which is going to be vast, gobbling up much new space and expanses of newly-painted wall. Overall, however, I would guess that the RA might well find itself struggling occasionally in the future to be filling all its space all the time with worthwhile exhibitions.