Christopher Le Brun will step down as President of the Royal Academy of Arts in December 2019 after serving for eight years. Le Brun became President of the Royal Academy in 2011. During his Presidency the Royal Academy has been transformed into one of the world’s leading arts organisations. He is the 26th President since Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first painter to be elected since 1984, and the youngest to hold the post since Lord Leighton in 1878.
He presided over the 250th Anniversary celebrations in 2018 and the completion of the RA’s transformative redevelopment linking Burlington House with Burlington Gardens in the same year. Le Brun was closely involved with this project from inception to completion and was instrumental in creating the new Collection Gallery, The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre and The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries. The redesign by Sir David Chipperfield CBE RA and supported by the National Lottery, is the largest in the RA’s history and gives the RA 70% more public space than the original Burlington House footprint.
Outstanding exhibitions since 2011 include the critically acclaimed Bronze (2012); Ai Weiwei (2015); Abstract Expressionism (2017), the first major exhibition of the movement since 1959; the award-winning Charles I: King and Collector (2018) and Oceania (2018), the first-ever major survey of Oceanic art to be held in the UK. The annual Summer Exhibition has returned to being one of the major events of the summer art calendar. The 250th Summer Exhibition co-ordinated by Grayson Perry RA received the highest attendance for a Summer Exhibition in over 100 years.
During his Presidency Le Brun has maintained his studio practice continuing his work as a painter, sculptor and printmaker. Following his departure from the RA, he will return to his studio to devote time to his forthcoming solo exhibitions in Shanghai and New York. A new President of the Royal Academy of Arts will be elected by Royal Academicians in December 2019.
Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts said: “I leave confident that today’s Royal Academy is bigger, brighter and better. Its prestige has never been higher, with professional staff of enviable quality, an art school and exhibition programme of world-class, and Academicians who represent the very best of contemporary art and architecture. The Academy is now taking up the role in national life for which it was originally designed.”
Axel Rüger, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts said: “In his time as President, Christopher Le Brun has overseen a period of incredible change and development at the Royal Academy. We are deeply grateful for his inspiration and leadership which has given the Royal Academy unprecedented success and manifested it further as one of the world’s leading arts organisations. Personally, I am grateful to him for his trust and continued support following my recent appointment.”
Rebecca Salter, Keeper of the Royal Academy said: “Christopher Le Brun, as President, has been the driving force behind the visionary redevelopment in our 250th anniversary year. This has given the Royal Academy the opportunity to expand its programme in many new ways and his legacy will shape the RA for many years to come. It has been an honour and pleasure to work with him.”
Christopher Le Brun PRA Born in Portsmouth in 1951, Le Brun studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (DFA) London from 1970-74 and at Chelsea School of Art (MA) from 1974-75. His reputation as a painter was established in several international group exhibitions, such as the highly influential Zeitgeist exhibition at the Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin, and from 1980 onwards, in many solo exhibitions in the UK, Europe and America. He was a prize-winner at the John Moores Liverpool exhibitions in 1978 and 1980 and worked in Berlin during 1987-88 as guest of the DAAD artist’s programme. Between 1990 and 1995 he served as a trustee of the Tate in the early years of the directorship of Sir Nicholas Serota, a period which saw the radical developments of Tate Liverpool and St. Ives and key decisions made regarding the design and establishment of Tate Modern at Bankside. From 1996-2003 he was the Artist Trustee of the National Gallery where he served on the Buildings Committee responsible for the appointment of masterplan architects and the re-development of the east wing. From 2000-2005 he was a Trustee of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. He was a Trustee of the Royal Drawing School until 2017, which he helped to establish in 2000. He is currently a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1996, becoming the inaugural Eranda Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy in 2000. In 2011, Le Brun was elected President of the Royal Academy, following the architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw PPRA.
Top Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2019