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Art attack


The forced appointment of a new keeper, and the impending departure of the president of the Royal Academy, Phillip King (due to 'ill health'), suggests the RA is in trouble. Actually it is doing well on most fronts; exhibition supremo Norman Rosenthal recently won Andrew Logan's Alternative Miss World competition with a series of fetching outfits, not to mention a series of successful events in both the galleries and the architecture programme. However, the botched handling of the departure of the former keeper, Brendan Neiland, has left an unpleasant taste which will take some time to get over. Neiland, a fan of architecture whose work has often taken modern buildings as his subject, ran a bank account into which donations to the RA schools, for which he was responsible, could be paid, in order to prevent (as he thought) the money going into central funds and being eaten up for other purposes. No doubt this was wrong but there was no suggestion that it was done for personal gain. What should have been a simple administrative adjustment and ticking off became a big deal, with the RA secretary, Lawton 'Miss' Fitt imagining that she could dismiss him. Since the keeper is not an employee of the RA, but an appointment by its general assembly, this rather missed the point, but made a different one, which is that the secretary appears not to understand the structure of the organisation she runs. Pity.

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