Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by George III in 1768. Governed by artists to 'promote the arts of design' and was the first institution in Great Britain devoted solely to the promotion of the visual arts. The Royal Academy raised the standing of art, artists and architecture. It has held an annual selling exhibition since its formation and held its first loan exhibition in 1870 of 'Ancient Masters'. It now enjoys an unrivalled reputation as a venue for exhibitions of international importance.
Varies with each exhibition
- Museums Association
Academicians in Focus: Timothy Hyman RA
- 30 April — 22 October 2015 *on now
This exhibition assembles some of the poignant and characterful drawings and paintings resulting from Timothy Hyman’s 60 visits to Maggie’s Centres as part of an artist’s residency from 2011–12.
Maggie’s Centres provide free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996, using a blueprint for cancer care established by Maggie Keswick Jencks before her death in June 1995. Since then the charity has commissioned a sequence of outstanding, modestly-scaled buildings sited alongside NHS hospitals
many being designed by major architects, often without fee.
A moving and sensitive portrayal of the inner life of the centres, this exhibition celebrates those who benefit from them – their gatherings, preoccupations, and individual journeys – and explores the essence of the buildings both spiritually and structurally.
Friends, Patrons & Corporate Members have access from 10am, general public from 4pm.
Daniel Maclise: The Waterloo Cartoon
- 2 September 2015 — 3 January 2016 *on now
To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo a rarely exhibited treasure of the RA’s Collection, the Daniel Maclise cartoon, The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo, will be on display after spending decades in storage.
Over 13 metres wide, it is one of the largest cartoons in the UK and was produced in preparation for a prestigious commission in the Houses of Parliament, where the the finished wall-painting is still on display. A work of monumental scale and drama it depicts one of the most significant battles in British history in incredible detail.
Maclise was a prolific painter and illustrator who was much admired for his draughtsmanship and his outstanding skill is showcased in the Waterloo Cartoon. Completed from 1858–1859 he used extensive research and eye-witness accounts to inform the work. Remarkably the piece does not portray triumphalism or glorify war, instead highlighting the tragedy and suffering of this ferocious battle.
The cartoon has recently undergone conservation treatment, thanks to funding from the Arts Council England, to allow it to be presented during this significant occasion.
Complimentary entry with a valid Royal Academy exhibition ticket or £3 General Admission ticket. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.
Thinking through drawing: Chris Wilkinson RA
- 3 September 2015 — 14 February 2016 *on now
Giving a unique insight into the mind of an architect, the RA presents the personal sketchbooks of Chris Wilkinson RA.
To have an architect or artist share their sketchbooks is to be offered an extraordinary window into their creative process, to reveal their observations and their thinking, to see the designer’s mind at work. For an architect, the sketchbook is not just a place to draw, but a place to order thoughts – to graphically and visually gather information and to develop a design response.
This is certainly true for renowned architect Chris Wilkinson RA, who believes passionately in the importance of drawing by hand, particularly in an age dominated by digital media.
This exhibition contains a selection of Wilkinson’s sketchbooks, drawings and watercolours from the last 30 years alongside architectural objects. They reveal his design thinking, from initial site studies and early concepts to design development and construction, through projects such as the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, Maggie’s Centre in Oxford and the King’s Cross Gasholders.
Complimentary entry with a valid Royal Academy exhibition ticket, or £3 General Admission ticket. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.
- 19 September — 13 December 2015 *on now
Our most recent single artist shows have seen some of the true greats of contemporary art animate our Main Galleries with unforgettable, powerful work. Hockney, Kapoor, Kiefer – you need to be a special artist to embrace the immensity of our historic spaces. Who better then to take up the challenge this autumn than Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most influential artists.
Ai became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010 but this will be the first major institutional survey of his work ever held in the UK and it will bridge over two decades of his extraordinary career.
Curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, the RA presents some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day. Among new works created specifically for our galleries and courtyard are a number of large-scale installations, as well as works showcasing everything from marble and steel to tea and glass.
With typical boldness, the chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.
£15.50 (without donation £15). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.
white: a project by Edmund de Waal
- 26 September 2015 — 3 January 2016 *on now
This unique project in the RA Library and Print Room is an exploration of the colour white and the impact that white objects have on their surroundings
an interweaving of words and books with sculpture, paintings and photographs.
Artist Edmund de Waal is the best-selling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes and the forthcoming The White Road. He has conceived and curated white, a project which sets objects in dialogue with one another and with the spaces around them.
White is not a neutral colour: it forces other colours to reveal themselves. Its blankness suggests both beginnings and endings, while its purity evokes impossibility and obsession. As a nexus for explorations of abstraction, minimalism and the spiritual, white has had special significance to artists across generations, and has fascinated de Waal himself since he made his first pot as a child.
From classical Greek statuary to a marble lantern by Ai Weiwei, and from Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist Tea Set to porcelain pots by de Waal, diverse artworks united by the colour white await discovery alongside little known parts of the Academy’s own collections, including J.M.W. Turner’s porcelain palette. Interspersed amongst the library’s shelves and cabinets, these unexpected encounters invite a quiet and serendipitous journey of discovery.
- 24 October 2015 — 31 January 2016
Jean-Etienne Liotard was an artist in great demand at noble courts across Enlightenment Europe. An eccentric and distinctive portraitist, he also made carefully observed scenes of contemporary life in far-flung locales.
£11.50 (without donation £10). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.
Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse
- 30 January — 20 April 2016
Using the work of Monet as a starting point, this landmark exhibition examines the role gardens played in the evolution of art from the early 1860s through to the 1920s.
Trace the emergence of the modern garden in its many forms and glories as we take you through a period of great social change and innovation in the arts. Discover the paintings of some of the most important Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Avant-Garde artists of the early twentieth century as they explore this theme.
Monet, arguably the most important painter of gardens in the history of art, once said he owed his painting “to flowers”. But Monet was far from alone in his fascination with the horticultural world, which is why we will also be bringing you masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Manet, Sargent, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt and Klee.
For these artists and others, the garden gave them the freedom to break new ground and explore the ever-changing world around them. Highlights include a remarkable selection of works by Monet, including the monumental Agapanthus Triptych, reunited specifically for the exhibition, Renoir’s Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil and Kandinsky’s Murnau The Garden II.
As our galleries are bathed in the colour and light of more than 120 works, see the garden in art with fresh eyes.
£17.60 (without donation £16). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.
Curator’s Collection Talk: The Waterloo Cartoon
- 6 October 2015 3-3:30pm
- 1 December 2015 3-3:30pm
RA Collection curator Annette Wickham introduces this epic cartoon by Daniel Maclise RA depicting the meeting of Duke of Wellington and his Prussian ally Field Marshall Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo.
Meet in the galleries; no booking required
Curator’s Collection Talk: Prints from the Napoleonic Wars
- 3 November 2015 3-3:30pm
RA Collections curator Maria Alambritis introduces a selection of prints from the Royal Academy Collection, which depict events from the Napoleonic Wars.
Meet in the galleries; no booking required
Royal Academy of Arts
020 7300 8000