Academies of Fine Arts

Academies of Fine Arts

 

institutions (most often state) which are scholarly and creative centers devoted to the problems of the plastic arts and, also, higher (often private) art schools.

The first academies of fine arts, which arose in Italy in the 16th century, were free unions of artists who studied the art of antiquity and the methods of the great masters of the Renaissance and gave much attention to drawing as the basic form of art. The first academy in the present sense of the word was the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, founded in Paris in 1648; it played a well-known and positive role in the development of French art, formulating rules of the so-called grand style of aristocratic court art on the basis of the aesthetic doctrines of classicism. Instruction was given according to these rules until the French Revolution of 1789, which temporarily abolished the academy. Academies of fine arts based on the Parisian model were founded at the courts of many European countries in the 17th and 18th centuries—for example, in Vienna in 1692, in Berlin in 1694, and in London in 1768.

Academies in other European cities as well as several private studios which were called academies, such as the Julian Academy in Paris, were founded in the 19th century. During this time, however, the academies of fine arts became an obstacle to the development of progressive art, and the most powerful realistic movements of the 19th century arose outside and against them. At the present time the academies of fine arts in Western Europe play an insignificant role in defining the directions of artistic life; several, for example, in Paris (Ecole des Beaux-Arts) and London, have allowed some degree of penetration of the newest artistic trends in an attempt to maintain their influence.

The Academy of Arts in Russia was founded in 1757 in St. Petersburg as the Academy of the Three Most Noble Arts (painting, sculpture, architecture), as suggested by I. I. Shuvalov. In 1764 it was reorganized into the Imperial Academy of Arts—a government institution regulating artistic life, commissioning works, and granting ranks. From the 18th century until the start of the 19th century the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts played a progressive role in educating the nation’s artists. It became the center of the artistic life of Russia and made possible the dissemination of the principles of classicism. Toward the middle of the 19th century the Academy of Arts became a conservative institution cultivating formal and alienated forms of art and opposing the development of realism. During the first half of the 19th century, such Russian artists as A. A. Ivanov, K. P. Briullov, and P. A. Fedotov had already abandoned in their art the official policies of the Academy of Arts, and further development of the democratic movement led to a public break with the Academy of Arts in 1863 by a group of its graduates (headed by I. K. Kramskoi), who then formed their own Artists’Artel. Nevertheless, thanks to the activity of a group of prominent realist teachers—P. P. Chistiakov, I. E. Repin, A. I. Kuindzhi, and others—the Academy of Arts retained its significance as a school of professional mastery.

In 1918 the Academy of Arts was abolished by a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars and was replaced by other educational institutions. In 1933 the All-Russian Academy of Arts was founded in Leningrad as the highest art educational institution and remained in existence until 1947. In 1947 the Academy of Arts of the USSR was organized to function as a scholarly and creative center for the arts.

REFERENCES

Petrov, P. N. Shornik materialov dlia istorii imp. S.-Peterburgskoi Akademii khudozhestv za 100 let ee sushchestvovaniia, parts 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1864–66.
Kondakov, S. N. (compiler). Iubileinyi spravochnik imp. Akademii khudozhestv 1764–1914, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1914.
Zotov, A. I. Akademia khudozhestv SSSR. Moscow, 1960.
de Montaiglon, A. Procés verbaux de l’Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture: 1648–1792. Paris, 1875.
Pevsner, N. Academies of Art: Past and Present. Cambridge, 1940.
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