History

AVU HISTORY

The Academy of Fine Arts in Prague was established in 1799 by a decree passed by Emperor Franz I. The impetus for the creation of the Academy came from the “Society of Patriotic Art Lovers”, a philanthropic fellowship of enlightened aristocrats who had previously founded the Picture Gallery (today’s National Gallery) and thus laid the foundation for the preservation of individual artworks and collections, as well as for education in the arts. To begin with the Academy functioned purely as a school of painting and drawing in various genres (figure painting, landscape, and paintings featuring historical and religious themes). Subsequently special schools were created for printmaking, sculpture and architecture, etc. In 1896 the school was put under state control and an elected rector took charge. In 1925 the school became the first art school in Bohemia to acquire the status of a university. It gradually expanded its fields of study (in 1945, for example, the Art Conservation Department was opened), and in 1990 internal reforms led to multimedia disciplines becoming part of its programme.

 

With its redoubtable history and tradition, the institution played a significant role in the formation of a modern Czech culture of fine art. The most important Czech artists of their day were both students and professors here, including František Kupka, who was professor at AVU in Paris from 1926. At that time the institution also played an important role in the formation of the national artistic cultures of Slovakia, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia. Since 1903 the school has been housed in a magnificent building designed for its specific requirements by the architect Václav Roštlapil, while other ateliers are located in historical buildings nearby. For many years the Academy has had a relatively stable number of students (approximate­ly 330). The ratio of students to lecturers in specialist ateliers is based on the individual requirements of teaching young talents. Special emphasis is put on theory and aesthetics, as well as on the teaching of crafts in individual workshops and many other courses within the framework of its Lifelong Learning Programme. It also has science and research departments, as well as a library, historical archive and its own gallery. The school is actively involved in inter­national exchange programmes and has several long-term bilateral agreements concluded with traditional partners around the world. The independent Guest Professor Studio is part of this structure.

The Academy of Fine Arts has the status of a public university. It receives a basic grant of some CZK 60 million per annum from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in accordance with set rules for the financing of tertiary education. Further financing comes from funds supporting institutional development, artistic and creative activities, and science and research, as well as from successful grant projects and programmes, the profits generated by the Academy’s own activities, and donations.

The Academy of Fine Arts is well placed to offer intensive, focused support for the development of talent. It has its own spacious north-facing historical ateliers with overhead lighting, as well as various technological workshops. It offers an individual approach and a clear system of teaching, within the framework of which it is possible transfer between ateliers and disciplines.  

 
MgA. Tomáš Vaněk
Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague