British artist Damien Hirst has turned down an offer to become a Royal Academician at the Royal Academy in London, an institution that was founded in 1768 by King George III. The refusal was revealed by Secretary and Chief Executive Dr Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, who told the Evening Standard that he does not know the reasons of this decision. According to Saumarez Smith, there are artists who have accepted the invitation and others that have not, some of these are: Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin and Paula Rego. Other contemporary artists, such as Tracey Emin, who made her dirty bed an artistic installation, have accepted to become a Royal Academician.
Some artists who were formed in the 50s and 60s believed that the Royal Academy had become obsolete, but that has changed and the newer generations have supported the Academy.
Membership of the Royal Academy is made up of up to 80 practising artists, each elected by ballot of the General Assembly of the Royal Academy, and known individually as Royal Academicians (R.A.). The Royal Academy is governed by these Royal Academicians.
All RAs are entitled to exhibit up to six works in the annual Summer Exhibition. They also have the opportunity to exhibit their work in small exhibitions held in the Friends’ Room and are occasionally invited to hold major exhibitions in the Sackler Galleries. Many Academicians are involved in teaching in the Schools and giving lectures as part of the Royal Academy Education Programme.
Damien Hirst, the highest paid living artist and most provocative of the YBAs, is becoming a free agent. The art world’s answer to Reggie Jackson says he will sell his latest body of work at auction, circumventing de rigueur gallery sales. “The world is changing,” said Hirst, and as always, he’s ahead of the curve.
Hirst is a rare breed–both artist and salesman. This isn’t the first time he’s stunned the art world with his business savvy (and his dead animals). Back in November of 2003, the artist bought back 12 of his seminal pieces from benefactor Charles Saatchi for $15 million. By owning his key early work, Hirst sought to control his own market, deciding which pieces to hold on to or place in museums or collections. Were these works to be sold en masse, as Saatchi is known to do, the value of his works could have taken a substantial hit. This past February, Hirst also opened a store on High Street called Other Criteria, designed to “democratize” art–or at least commoditize it.
Gagosian Gallery, London, will present an exhibition of new paintings by Howard Hodgkin from 3 April – 23 May 2008. It will be the artist’s first show of new work in London since 1999 and will be his debut exhibition at Gagosian’s spectacular Britannia Street space. The Gagosian exhibition will include twenty new paintings completed since 2006. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a specially commissioned piece by Alan Hollinghurst.