Letter: Royal Academy's malevolent critics

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Royal Academy's malevolent critics

Sir: David Lister's article (13 June) concerning sculptor Rachel White- read's turning down membership of the "stuffy and stifling" Royal Academy focuses on the growing - and unfair - criticism of our oldest and most venerable art organisation.

The chorus of critical abuse against the broad and healthily eclectic Summer Show forgets the value of an exhibition that does not pretend to be anything other than a mixed bag reflecting a complete range of contemporary styles. Public taste is thereby appeased in a location that is in effect a shop window to the world. As many as two-thirds of exhibits are sold, so the show must be doing something right. What is right is that the meek and mighty, young and old, abstract and representational coexist in a congenial and meritocratic context.

What is also overlooked by our critics - rightly identified as malevolent by RB Kitaj - is that the RA today is probably the art world's most democratic institution. It is, after all, run mostly by artists.

Compared with the Tate Gallery, for example, which is "governed" by a director and an autocratic junta of trustees, the RA has a rotating selection committee to ensure continuity with the past and open-mindedness to the future. The last thing it needs are artists of dubious talent hyped up by the media for newsworthy value.

PETER DAVIES

London W12

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