Azara Blog: More exhibitions in London

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Date published: 2005/06/05

The Royal Academy's annual Summer Show has just started, so it must indeed be the start of summer. It has the usual collection of good stuff and rubbish. It's a year with more prints than usual, and you have to wonder if they are ever going to manage to sell a hundred (or whatever) copies of all those prints (there must be hundreds), which is, after all, the point of the show.

One room is dedicated to the work of Ed Ruscha, an honorary academician. The RA seems to like to have Americans as honorary members, presumably because that brings with it the interest, and hence money, of Americans generally. But what a waste to dedicate one room to Ruscha. Along one wall are dozens of aerial photos of parking lots. And there are also lots of (non-aerial) photos of swimming pools. Well you can see why Californians with more money than sense might like this sort of stamp collecting, but why here?

Academicians are allowed six entries as their right, which means that that work is on the whole is not nearly so good as the work submitted by the non-academicians. This year is no exception. Some academicians have nothing new to say, and their trick is so feeble it starts to wear thin (Craigie Aitchison comes first to mind).

Some highlights:

As with most summer shows, the best room was the one with architecture in it. Whatever else you can say about Eva Jiricna, she knows how to do beautiful staircases.

Meanwhile, over at Tate Modern an exhibition of the work of Herzog and de Meuron has just opened. They of course did the conversion of the Tate Modern itself. Lots of architects are failed artists, and Herzon and de Meuron are squarely in this camp. The exhibition space is littered with toy models, it must be great fun working for them. And the pseudo-intellectual gloss put on some of the ideas is a bit pathetic, even if they look the part of being Swiss philosophers. They are also part of the unfortunate modern architectual movement that deems that no corner should be square because design software can allow every corner not to be square. But the bottom line is that they have done some fine buildings, although some of them are far too fussy on the outside, if clean and clinical on the inside. If you have money to burn, they could well be the architects for you. Just don't take their pretensions seriously.

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