The Great Resurgence of Academic Art

August 29, 2014 9:19 PM

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The Great Resurgence of Academic Art

Though I attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna for nearly six years, I didn't want their degree. When I was enrolled, back in the early 80s, you graduated with a piece of paper that conferred upon you the title of 'Akademische Maler' or Academic Painter. In working towards my earlier 1977 Bachelor's degree in the States, every art history course, and most of the studio painting courses, agreed that Academic painting was the worst crime against art ever committed. In my sophomore year at a small Midwestern liberal arts university this manifested itself in vandalism against the 19th century academic paintings that had the bad luck to hang in the same auditorium where art history lectures were delivered. A large Bouguereau painting received a dozen puncture wounds from the pens and pencils of the righteous. By the time I got to Vienna the last thing I wanted to be was an Academic Painter.

At the time the term Academic Art referred to those classically trained artists of the 19th century who had learned their craft in academies, came up through the rigors of proscribed teaching methods, and created content to fit the tastes of the ever-widening bourgeoisie. In my art history classes i...

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