From Rubens to Ai Weiwei: 2015 at the RA

Published 8 October 2014

Today we launched our 2015 exhibition programme. Artistic Director, Tim Marlow, shows us what’s in store for the year ahead.

  • There is an inspiring sense of energy and ambition around the RA on the back of the Anselm Kiefer opening which I’m confident we can build on next year.

    Let’s start with the biggest news. Continuing our tradition of living artists transforming the Main Galleries, with recent solo shows including Kapoor, Hockney and Kiefer, we turn our focus in Autumn 2015 to Ai Weiwei Hon RA.

    Ai Weiwei is a major artist and cultural phenomenon. His work is visionary, iconoclastic and increasingly political. When he speaks, the world listens. Currently he is unable to leave China and therefore we are developing his first major institutional survey in Britain virtually, and of course through regular studio visits. He has been described as an “artist, architect, curator, publisher, poet and urbanist” and the exhibition will explore all possible facets of his career to date alongside a variety of work created specifically for the RA.

    But even before Ai Weiwei, 2015 begins with a bang with a show dedicated to the seventeenth-century Baroque master, Rubens. An artist described as the ‘prince of painters’, this first major overview of his work and legacy will explore his influence on artists as diverse as Van Dyck and Gainsborough to Cézanne and Picasso.

  • Peter Paul Rubens, Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt, c.1616.

    Oil on canvas. 256 x 324.5 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, inv. 1811.1.10. Photo © MBA, Rennes, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais / Adélaïde Beaudoin. Exhibition organised by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Royal Academy of Arts, London, and BOZAR (Centre for Fine Arts), Brussels.

  • In our Sackler galleries, we’re celebrating two twentieth-century American greats, both of whom deserve wider recognition. First up is Richard Diebenkorn, revered as a painterly post-war master for his intricately balanced, light-drenched elegies to the West Coast, then in July we bring together some of Joseph Cornell’s most remarkable ‘shadow boxes’, assembled from dime store treasures which spoke to a yearning for distant, idealised places and times.

  • Joseph Cornell, Untitled, c. 1956-58.

    Box construction with sand draw. 30.8 x 43.2 x 9.2 cm. The Robert Lehrman Art Trust, Courtesy of Aimee and Robert Lehrman. © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2014. Photo: Quicksilver Photographers, LLC.

  • From voyages of the imagination to the travels of an Enlightenment portraitist known as ‘The Turk’: our final Sackler show of 2015 introduces idiosyncratic Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard.

    Meanwhile, artists from the RA Schools (Britain’s first art school) will showcase their work at Premiums (February) and the Schools Show (June). And, last but not least, the much loved and largest open submission contemporary art show in the world returns once more: yes, it’s the Summer Exhibition – now in its 247th year.

  • Some of the RA Schools students exhibiting in 'Premiums: Interim Projects'

    Photo: Benedict Johnson

  • So that’s 2015 in summary. Tickets are on sale for all exhibitions – but if you want to see them all (with a guest) for free, it’s best to become a Friend.

    I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am.

    Tim Marlow is Artistic Director at the RA.

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