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Here Are 9 Best Colleges From Around The World For Studying Arts

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By Priyanjana Pramanik:

Most of the returns you get after typing “top schools for fine arts in the world” in Google search, are lists of the best schools in the United States. While helpful for those looking for schools in America, that’s not quite as useful for those looking elsewhere for education in fine arts. So instead of talking about the nine best schools for the arts in the world (which the Internet would have us believe are all located in the USA), we’re going to name the nine best “countries” in the world for studying arts, and then list the best arts school in each one.

For potential students of painting and sculpture, the location of the school is incredibly important. Certain countries are favourites for  artists, known historically for their art and culture. France, Italy, Greece, Austria, England and the United States are some of the countries which immediately come to mind. Some of the more surprising countries on this list are Finland, Norway and India. From each of these, we will talk about, debatably, the best school or college for students of arts.


– France: École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts

The École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts is a highly distinguished National School of Fine Arts. Founded in 1648 by Charles Le Brun, it is located in Paris, close to the famed Louvre museum. Studies at the school include painting, installation, graphic arts, photography, sculpture, digital media and video. Additional theoretical courses are supported by technical training and access to technical facilities. Conferences, seminars and debates are organized throughout the year. The collection of the school includes around 450,000 items, containing artwork and historical books.  Notable alumni of the school include Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Armand Laroche.


– Italy: Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze

The Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze translates to the “Academy of Fine Arts of Florence”. Founded in 1563,  it is located in Florence, Tuscany. Originally, the Academy’s members were the eminent artistic personalities of Cosimo Medici’s court, supervising artistic production in the area. In 1784, all the schools of drawing in Florence were combined into one single institution, known as the Accademia di Belle Arti from then onwards. Since 1783, the Accademia Gallery has housed the original David by Michelangelo.


– Greece: Athens School of Fine Arts

The Athens School of Fine Arts, established in 1837, is Greece’s premier art school. As of 1840, the program for fine arts included painting, sculpture, architecture, lithography, woodcut, geometry and cartography. In 1910, the faculty was made independent of the National Technical University. This was also the year in which women were first allowed to study at the School of Fine Arts. Over the years, notable faculty members include the French painter Bonirote, Lissandros Kautantzoglou, and sculptor Costas Dimitriadis.


– Austria: Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts was founded 1698, as a private academy. The academy is divided into the Institute of Fine Arts (including the departments of abstract painting, art and digital media, art and photography, arts and research, conceptual art, contextual painting, expanded pictorial space, figurative painting, graphic arts and printmaking techniques, object sculpture, performative art-sculpture, video and video installation and textual sculpture), Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies, Institution for Conservation and Restoration, Institute for Natural Sciences and Technologies in Art, Institute for Secondary School Teaching Degrees (in craft, design and textiles) and the Institute for Art and Architecture. Notable alumni include Constantin Daniel Rosenthal, Gottfried Helnwein and Daniel Richter.


– England: Royal Academy Schools

The Royal Academy of Arts is an independent, privately funded institution, based in Burlington House, on Piccadilly, London. Together, the Royal Academy Schools form the oldest art school in Britain and the only institution to offer a three-year post-graduate art course. The Academy provides free tuition to its students, contributed by Members of the Royal Academy. The program concentrates on studio-based practice, covering all fine art media. Disciplines such as painting, sculpture, print, installation, time-based media and digital media are taught. Each year, students of the Royal Academy are given opportunities to show their work. The art collection boasts the works of Joshua Reynolds, Gainsborough, Benjamin West and even one piece by Michelangelo.


– The United States of the America: Yale School of Art

The Yale School of Art, established in 1869, is one of the 12 constituent schools of Yale University. It grants a Masters of Fine Arts degree to those who have completed their studies in graphic design, painting or printmaking, photography or sculpture. Yale offers courses in all of these four interrelated fields. As of 2013, Yale is rated the best in the United States for its Master of Fine Arts program. Notable alumni from the Yale School of Art are Jennifer Bartlett, Emery Bopp, Chuck Close and Matthew Barney.


– Finland: Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture

The Aalto University School is made up of two separate schools, namely the Helsinki University of Technology and the University of Art and Design, Helsinki (TaiK). The university awards Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Arts degrees for students of the fine arts. Degree programs at the school are divided into motion picture, television and production design, media, design, art and architecture.


– Norway: Oslo National Academy of the Arts

The Oslo National Academy of the Arts, while a comparatively new institute, is already ranked as having among the world’s 60 best design programs, by Business Week. Set up in 1996, it provides education in visual arts, design and performing arts. It is a merger of five independent colleges, namely the National Academy of Craft and Art Industry, the National Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Theatre, the National Academy of Opera and the National Academy of Ballet. They are now called the Faculty of Design, Faculty of Performing Arts and the Faculty of Visual Arts. Current faculty members of the academy include Aeron Bergman, Susanne Winterling and Jeannette Christensen.


– India: Kala Bhavana

The Kala Bhavana, founded in 1919, is the fine arts faculty of the Shantiniketan-based University, Viswa-Bharati. The entire university was established by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It is considered to be India’s premier school of education and research in the visual arts, and brings in a large number of international students. The institute organizes year-round exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, stage performances and festivals. The Nandan Mela, the local annual art fair, serves as a link between students and the community. Notable alumni include K.G. Subramanyam and Satyajit Ray, while notable faculty members include Nandalal Bose and Jogen Chowdhury.

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  1. Sindhu Pawar

    Thank you so much for this article, I was searching for European Institutions, but I could only find US institutes! After a long research I finally found what I wanted. Very helpful.

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