The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition at Burlington House, Piccadilly, which opened on 10 June, is London's most popular annual open submission art fair, a much anticipated event which has delighted or infuriated Londoners each summer for the past 244 years.
This year visitors can see and buy some 1300 works by well known artists and academicians of the caliber of David Hockney and Peter Blake, hung alongside work by over 100 total unknowns, who have "distinguished merit".
While works like El Anatsui's vast bespoke curtain of silver bottletops, printing plates and roofing sheets which "decorates" the Academy's Palladian façade, may raise an opinionated eyebrow or two, this is not an exclusively controversial avant-garde event, but rather a traditional show of landscape, still life, portraiture, photography, sculpture and even architectural models; a kaleidoscopic mix of colour, style and raw talent, chosen by an RA committee of distinguished artists from some 11,000 works submitted. Most of the work on display is for sale and the money raised from your £10 entrance fee, (concessions), is historically used to support the Royal Academy's Schools bursaries scheme for the young artists of tomorrow, who will perhaps be showing here in years to come.
If Mr Anatsui's bottletops perplexes or, more likely, infuriates, a visit to 184 New Bond Street just around the corner will surely calm that fevered brow. Here, from 20 June - 11 July, the Fine Art Society has a stunning show of 50 masterpieces and rarely seen works by Walter Sickert, (1860-1942). Arguably the greatest British artist since Turner, Sickert has inspired and influenced successive generations of British painters and this exhibition, which ignores novelist Patricia Cornwell's remarkable assertion that he was Jack the Ripper, is one of the three best shows in town'!
During the 1920s, pioneer collector Samuel Courtauld assembled the finest collection of works by Post-impressionistic master Paul Gauguin in the UK. The entire collection, which includes major paintings and works on paper as well as of only two marble sculptures made by the artist plus two important works Martinique Landscape and Bathers at Tahiti, is the third and perhaps the most remarkable exhibition in London this summer. You can see Collecting Gauguin at the Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House from 20 June - 8 September.