Last week I went to the Royal Academy exhibition on the studio of Henri Matisse. I know his work so well but there were surprises. A 1906-7 painting of his daughter, Marguerite (below), was so simple and childlike and beautiful that I kept going back through the crowded gallery to look at it again.
Nothing to it. A child could do it; or so it seemed. Yet being like a child in its
execution was the idea behind the painting and the career of this great artist.
It’s difficult for me, now not living in London, to get to exhibitions; but the RA consistently produces major exhibitions, even if they are small like the Matisse. So going there is a must for my limited time.
I kept going back through the crowded gallery to look at it again
And I always like reminding myself of the book I published for the Academy some 35 years ago. Or the Summer Exhibition postcards I published of their artists perhaps 30 years ago. Or the art magazine I did called Art Perspectives over 40 years ago that sold hundreds and hundreds of copies at the RA.
In short I’ve been drenching and marinating myself in the Royal Academy for almost 50 years. And it is still a great institution in Piccadilly in Central London among the increasingly manicured and fabulously costly surrounding real estate.
They are blessed with having to only pay a peppercorn rent, so the building is virtually free. But then they have to repair it, fill it with exhibitions, and at the same time run an art school there, as they have done for almost the last 250 years. Next year is their actual quarter of a millennium. And they plan big things.