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The Academy of Art

The Academy of Art Collage

"The sculptor, and the painter also, should be trained in these liberal arts: grammar, geometry, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, perspective, history, anatomy, theory of design, arithmetic."

Summary of The Academy of Art

In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, academies - and their "academic" style - became focuses of dissent among many modern artists seeking to develop new styles. Yet, for centuries, the idea of the academy - a place where artists could obtain instruction and exhibit their work - commanded respect. Before their growth, the medieval guild had supplied a trade association for artists who regarded themselves principally as craftsmen. During the Renaissance, however, the status of the artist was raised to that of an individual who was gifted both technically and intellectually. Artists began to see themselves as the peers of philosophers and poets (Raphael included himself in his famous gathering The School of Athens (1509-10)), and academies came into being to provide the new kind of multifaceted education that was required.

A 19th-century photograph of the French École des Beaux-Arts.  What must have been a typical scene at an academy where a life drawing class is in progress.

Very much in the spirit of the establishment, the British John Constable said: "An artist who is self-taught is taught by a very ignorant person indeed." Many followed that kind of logic, but the few who didn't, the avant-garde of the next centuries, established their own path, and are remembered for it.

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