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Introducing 2018 at the Royal Academy of Arts

Published 7 September 2017

Next year’s exhibitions will take us from a legendary British collection to the far seas of the South Pacific, and from centuries past to a glimpse into the future of art. The RA’s Artistic Director introduces the programme for our 250th anniversary year.

  • The moment is almost here and the RA’s transformation is entering its final stages. In 2018, the Royal Academy turns 250 and we look forward to welcoming you to join our celebrations of a special year.

    In spring 2018 we reveal a new, unified and expanded site that will allow us to fulfil our mission as a champion for art and artists like never before. Architect David Chipperfield is combining our two buildings into one vast hub for art and architecture in the centre of London, creating new spaces to showcase our historic collection, the work of the artists and architects who lead the institution and the art school at our heart, as well as a new learning centre and lecture theatre. We’ll be announcing more details soon, but in the meantime I have the pleasure of introducing what I hope you agree is a world class programme of exhibitions.

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    Introducing 2018 at the Royal Academy

    Our Artistic Director Tim Marlow introduces the highlights of next year’s exhibition programme at the RA.

  • First up, on the cusp of our anniversary we look to the past, present and future of one of the cornerstones of artistic process. In From Life, we’ll ask what making art from life has meant to artists over time and what it means today, tracing a line from the origins of the RA right up to new work by Academicians such as Chantal Joffe, Antony Gormley, Farshid Moussavi and Gillian Wearing. We’ll also examine how virtual reality and other emerging technologies are opening up exciting possibilities for artists by offering new ways of making and seeing.

    In our Main Galleries, we will welcome in our 250th year with an historic first. Not since their dispersal across Europe following the king’s execution have the dazzling highlights of Charles I’s legendary art collection been reassembled. In 2018, that changes. With unprecedented access to the Royal Collection and alongside great works from the Louvre and the Prado, we will reunite Charles’s greatest treasures, among them masterpieces by Titian, Van Dyck, Rubens, Mantegna, Holbein and Tintoretto.

    Next up, we open our new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries with poetic, contemplative work by Royal Academician Tacita Dean, drawing on a fascination with landscape that has led her across the world. Works in a multitude of mediums – including Dean’s celebrated photochemical films and her largest wall-drawing to date – will invite the viewer to consider their place in the Earth’s timescales. Later in the year, these new, day-lit galleries will play host to an altogether different sensibility with a look at the buildings of Renzo Piano. From London’s Shard to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, they have changed cities across the globe and cemented Piano’s place as one of the greatest architects of our times.

    Summer is always the season when the RA is at its most vibrant and celebratory, and in 2018, we’re turning up the volume. Grayson Perry RA will take on the mantle of coordinator to deliver a Summer Exhibition takeover that will spill out across our newly expanded campus. As always, this art extravaganza will feature over 1,000 works by artists ranging from leading names to newcomers. And as we celebrate the new we also look to the past, charting the twists and turns of the Summer Exhibition’s 250-year history in The Great Spectacle. See defining works from Summer Shows past, and celebrate the pomp of the world’s largest open submission exhibition – which continues to help fund the free education of artists in the Royal Academy Schools.

    1768 was an auspicious year for British culture. Aside from the foundation of the RA, it was also the year that Captain James Cook set sail on a voyage of discovery to the uncharted seas of the South Pacific, where he encountered a plethora of island civilisations covering almost a third of the world’s surface. Oceania will put a long-overdue spotlight on the original and powerful art of Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia, from ancient treasures to works by leading contemporary artists.

    We close 2018 by marking one final anniversary: the centenary of the deaths of the two great icons of Austrian Modernism. Klimt / Schiele offers an intimate and tantalising glimpse into the artists’ enigmatic relationship and differing creative processes through their raw and revealing drawings, selected from the world’s greatest collection of their works on paper – Vienna’s Albertina Museum. Due to the fragility of these rare works, many of them will not see the light of day again for many years, making this exhibition all the more unmissable.

    So, a year of milestones, anniversaries and debuts – and, as always, remarkable, diverse, inspiring and exhilarating art. We hope you will join us throughout the year to enjoy our spectacular exhibitions, events and festivities as we welcome in the next 250 years.

    We have many more exciting announcements to make in the coming weeks and months, so make sure you are the first to hear by signing up for email updates below, or following us online.

    Become a Friend of the RA today and see all of these exhibitions for free.

    • John Constable, R.A., Rainstorm over the Sea

      RA250 memberships

      Be part of our anniversary – and support the next 250 years of art and artists

      To celebrate our 250th birthday in 2018, we are offering limited edition memberships – giving you the opportunity to get closer to the New Royal Academy of Arts and our expanded programme.