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The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna has been one of the internationally most important educational institutions for artists in the country for more than 325 years and is Austria’s art university richest in tradition today. Based on its leading position in Central Europe, the Academy applies high quality standards and compares to the best art universities in the world in order to attract teachers and students from all over the globe.

The Academy’s Paintings Gallery and Graphic Collection rank among Austria’s most significant art collections. Engaging with these collections sheds light on how artists of the past pursued their studies and helps to individuate one’s profile by critically examining the historical legacy. The Academy’s exhibition practice focuses on contemporary perspectives and approaches. In addition to project rooms for experimenting presentation settings at the institution’s various locations, the exhibition space in Eschenbachgasse, currently accommodating the xhibit and xposit programs, serves as a showcase for contemporary art and provides an important interface between the Academy and the public.

We offer our approximately 1,500 students a range of curricula that span from painting and sculpture to photography, video, performance, and conceptual art and also include architecture, stage design, as well as conservation and restoration. The courses and projects of the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies and the Institute of Natural Sciences and Technology in the Arts guarantee high theoretical standards of teaching in all fields of study, reflecting the position of the arts in the wider historical and social context. Closely related to these are the Academy’s education-in-the-arts studies, which we consider an essential contribution to the communication of art and culture. Doctoral studies, an internationally acclaimed PhD-in-practice program, and the Critical Studies master program complement the diploma programs respectively the bachelor/master programs in architecture. Students can make use of the manifold range of courses offered in the form of largely individual study paths.

As a university, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna places particular emphasis on arts based research and teaching. The results of art production and research flow into teaching in various ways and are communicated to a wider public in exhibitions, presentations, symposia, lecture series, and publications. We consider the presentation of a complex understanding of art for the knowledge society to be our substantial responsibility alongside the education of students.

The strength of the Academy lies, among other things, in its teachers’ international reputation and the internationality of its students, who come to Vienna from over fifty countries and, with their varied artistic biographies, represent the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The central position of the internationally oriented Austrian capital as a mediator between East and West plays a crucial role. The Academy cooperates with other universities as well as with art and cultural institutions all over the world. It encourages and supports its students in gaining international experience in the course of their studies.

The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is the only Austrian university at which women make up at least fifty percent of all staff categories and at all management levels. Gender justice, anti-racism, and decolonization are part of the Academy’s fundamental premises. The Academy counters forms of discrimination in all areas and critically explores its social conditions in numerous programs and initiatives.

Concept of Art and Academic Self-Image

Teaching and research at our art university are based on a differentiated concept of art. This concept encompasses a work’s aesthetic appearance and its institutional framework as well as the forms of thought characteristic of the artist’s practice. The Academy offers a comprehensive portfolio of contemporary arts, assembling a vast array of techniques, genres, media, and traditions. Its strong emphasis on the autonomy of the arts banks on an indirect social effectiveness that cannot be reduced to a curtailed applicability. A free approach to traditions of form plays an equally significant part as the experimental and critical-reflexive exploration of social ways of life.

Critical processes of reflection in the theoretical courses center on the basics of materials science and contemporary technical foundations, as well as on the study of the arts’ institutional and historical parameters. The examination of issues of subjectivation (with special emphasis on questions of gender identity) and socio-economic power (the historical consequences of colonial rule) has developed into essential aspects of the substantial of work at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Quality Standards and Quality Assurance

In addition to striving for the highest level of teaching and research, the Academy also encourages experimental approaches. With a ratio of teachers to students of one to six, the Academy offers a degree of supervision to be found at only a few outstanding art education institutions in the world. It combines knowledge transfer with personal support and careful monitoring of individual development in its teaching.

Students are selected in a multi-level process to ensure these qualities. The individual areas are evaluated by international experts on a regular basis. The Academy is orientated on participatory models of quality assurance that consider the special nature of the sciences of the arts.

Locations and Rooms

For teaching, research, studio and exhibition purposes, The Academy offers a total area of approximately 40.000 m2 spread over five buildings. The Academy’s heart is the historic building on Schillerplatz, which has been undergoing general renovation since 2017 and will be reopened in the winter semester 2021.

Additional rooms are available for exhibitions, presentations, and events, enabling teachers, students, and graduates to present their work.

New concepts and strategies for the opening and use of urban spaces are to support existing formats and their further development to make them accessible to a wider public.

Staff and Management

All members of the Academy’s staff - in teaching and research as well as in administration - contribute to the maintenance and further development of the institution in the light of  constantly changing challenges. As regards personnel culture, internal dialogue, participation, and transparency are of prime importance for the university management. The Academy promotes the development, training, and further education of its staff members in all fields.

Financing and Transparency

The financing of the Academy is largely ensured by the Republic of Austria. The financial management is committed to economy, expediency, and efficiency. The balance sheet as well as essential key management and performance indicators are published.

The Academy also generates income from its own resources and services and obtains third-party funds through patrons and joint projects with sponsors, foundations, and institutions.

State and Society

We are widely committed to the principles of equal treatment and diversity in our work. The use of resources takes into account environmental, climate protection and sustainability aspects. In doing so, the Academy is led by a comprehensive understanding of the public sphere, on the basis of which it responds to sociopolitical debates and contemporary social developments and seeks to cooperate with social movements and local initiatives.

The education of young artists, architects, and scholars at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna contributes to the sociocultural diversity of the democratic community. Graduates from the Academy are among the most successful actors in the international art field and play a decisive role in shaping the discourse on contemporary art beyond the borders of Austria.

Mag. Dr. Johan F. Hartle, Rector

Mag. Dr.  Ingeborg Erhart, Vice-Rector for Art | Teaching

Celestine Kubelka, Vice-Rector for Finance | Human Resources | Special Projects

Vienna, January 2020


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