A milestone exhibition?

Paris, 20 September 2018

In 1768, the Royal Society commissioned navigator James Cook, captain of the famous three-masted Endeavour, to explore the Pacific Ocean in search of terra incognita.

During his voyage, he discovered numerous island civilisations covering nearly one-third of the planet’s surface – from Tahiti in Polynesia to the Melanesian and Micronesian archipelagos. He also met indigenous peoples, in sometimes tense atmospheres due to spears thrown in response to muskets.

But at the same time, 250 years later, the Royal Academy has decided to honour this initial contact with other cultures by organising and producing a large-scale exhibition on the Oceanic arts. The show is on the same lines as other big monographic events at this British institution. Bear in mind that since the 1990s, the Royal Academy has staged exhibitions that delve into the cultural productions of great civilisations – “The Art of a Continent” (1995), “Aztecs” (2002), “Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years” (2005), “China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795” (2005), “Byzantium 330-1453” (2008), or “Bronze” (2012).

This new exhibition will gather around 200 works and cover over 500 years. Ethnographic and cultural objects will mingle with works by contemporary artists exploring the history of the region, its multiple identities, as well as very up- to-date issues such as climate change. “Oceania” From 29 September to 10 December. Royal Academy of Arts. Burlington House. London. United Kingdom. www.royalacademy.org.uk