Royal Academy censures creator of Sensation

The Royal Academy's ruling council yesterday censured its controversial exhibitions secretary Norman Rosenthal for remarks he made in a television programme. They then issued a vote of confidence in him.

Whether the man who put the Royal Academy back on the cultural map with a series of highly regarded exhibitions, will choose to stay there in the long term is open to question.

Mr Rosenthal courted controversy most recently with Sensation, the exhibition of young British artists taken from the Saatchi collection, and particularly its inclusion of a painting of Myra Hindley, which was damaged by protesters.

Three Academicians have resigned in recent weeks, one openly claiming that the behaviour of Mr Rosenthal was partly responsible, particularly the way he insulted an Academician on the BBC Omnibus programme about the Royal Academy.

Mr Rosenthal said of the 79-year-old figurative painter John Ward: "What is the point of painting a picture unless it is going to change the world? ... John Ward passionately believes in what he is doing and somehow thinks he is making real art. Maybe I am wrong and he is right, and the world will suddenly declare John Ward RA to be a great artist, but ... I doubt it."

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