Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (German: Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien) is a public art school of higher education in Vienna, Austria.

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Established1692; 330 years ago (1692)
RectorJohan Frederik Hartle
Students1268 (in 2010)


The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was founded in 1692 as a private academy modelled on the Accademia di San Luca and the Parisien Académie de peinture et de sculpture by the court-painter Peter Strudel, who became the Praefectus Academiae Nostrae. In 1701 he was ennobled by Emperor Joseph I as Freiherr (Baron) of the Empire. With his death in 1714, the academy temporarily closed.[1]

Life drawing room at the Vienna academy, Martin Ferdinand Quadal, 1787

On 20 January 1725, Emperor Charles VI appointed the Frenchman Jacob van Schuppen as Prefect and Director of the Academy, which was refounded as the k.k. Hofakademie der Maler, Bildhauer und Baukunst (Imperial and Royal Court Academy of painters, sculptors and architecture). Upon Charles' death in 1740, the academy at first declined, however during the rule of his daughter Empress Maria Theresa, a new statute reformed the academy in 1751. The prestige of the academy grew during the deanships of Michelangelo Unterberger and Paul Troger, and in 1767 the archduchesses Maria Anna and Maria Carolina were made the first Honorary Members. In 1772, there were further reforms to the organisational structure. Chancellor Wenzel Anton Kaunitz integrated all existing art schools into the k.k. vereinigten Akademie der bildenden Künste (Imperial and Royal Unified Academy of Fine Arts). The word "vereinigten" (unified) was later dropped. In 1822 the art cabinet grew significantly with the bequest of honorary member Anton Franz de Paula Graf Lamberg-Sprinzenstein. His collection still forms the backbone of the art on display.[2]

Main entrance on Schillerplatz

In 1872 Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria approved a statute making the academy the supreme government authority for the arts. A new building was constructed according to plans designed by the faculty Theophil Hansen in the course of the layout of the Ringstraße boulevard. On 3 April 1877, the present-day building on Schillerplatz in the Innere Stadt district was inaugurated, the interior works, including ceiling frescos by Anselm Feuerbach, continued until 1892. In 1907 and 1908, young Adolf Hitler, who had come from Linz, was twice denied admission to the drawing class. He stayed in Vienna, subsisting on his orphan allowance, and tried unsuccessfully to continue his profession as an artist. Soon he had withdrawn into poverty and started selling amateur paintings, mostly watercolours, for meagre sustenance until he left Vienna for Munich in May 1913 (see also, Paintings by Adolf Hitler).[3]

Fragment of the main building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna
Anatomical room of the Akademie

During the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany from 1938–1945, the academy, like other Austrian universities, was forced to purge its staff and student body of Jews and others that fell under the purview of the Nuremberg Racial Laws.[4] After World War II, the academy was reconstituted in 1955 and its autonomy reconfirmed. Eduard von Josch, the secretary of the Academy, was dismissed for being a member of the NSDAP.[5] The academy has had university status since 1998, but retained its original name. It is currently the only Austrian university that doesn't have the word "university" in its name.


The academy is divided into the following institutes:[6]

  • Institute for Fine Arts, which houses thirteen departments: 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; Textual Sculpture[7]
  • Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies (art theory, philosophy, history);
  • Institute for Conservation and Restoration;
  • Institute for Natural Sciences and Technologies in Art;
  • Institute for Secondary School Teaching Degrees (craft, design, textile arts);
  • Institute for Art and Architecture.

The Academy currently has about 900 students, almost a quarter of which are foreign students. Its faculty includes "stars" such as Peter Sloterdijk. Its library houses approx. 110,000 volumes and its "etching cabinet" (Kupferstichkabinett) has about 150,000 drawings and prints. The collection is one of the biggest in Austria, and is used for academic purposes, although portions are also open to the general public.

Notable alumniEdit

Other students and professorsEdit


  1. ^ "A Chronological History of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts". Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  2. ^ History of the art collection on the Academy's website
  3. ^ Pruitt, Sarah. "When Hitler Tried (and Failed) to Be an Artist". HISTORY. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  4. ^ Pawlowsky, Verena (2015). Die Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien im Nationalsozialismus : Lehrende, Studierende und Verwaltungspersonal (PDF). Wien. ISBN 978-3-205-20291-2. OCLC 939388971.
  5. ^ Pawlowsky, Verena (2015). Die Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien im Nationalsozialismus : Lehrende, Studierende und Verwaltungspersonal (PDF). Wien. ISBN 978-3-205-20291-2. OCLC 939388971.
  6. ^ "Institutes". Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  7. ^ [1] Archived September 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Fowler, Susanne (23 November 2014). "Gloves Fit for a Queen, With Hands-On Craftsmanship". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2016.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 48°12′05″N 16°21′55″E / 48.20139°N 16.36528°E / 48.20139; 16.36528