Founded in 1663 by David Teniers the Younger, painter to the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm and Don Juan of Austria.

By Frosina Dimova


The Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp (Dutch: Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten van Antwerpen) is an art academy located in Antwerp, Belgium. It is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. It was founded in 1663 by David Teniers the Younger, painter to the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm and Don Juan of Austria. Teniers was master of the Guild of St Luke — which embraced arts and some handicrafts — and petitioned Philip IV of Spain, then master of the Spanish Netherlands, to grant a royal charter to establish a Fine Arts Academy in Antwerp. It houses the Antwerp Fashion Academy.

The Royal Academy Of Fine Arts Antwerp.

The Royal Academy developed into an internationally acclaimed institute for Fine Arts, Architecture and Design. From the nineteenth century on, the academy attracted young artists from abroad. Irish, German, Dutch, Polish artists looking for a solid classical training found their way to Antwerp. Under the direction of Gustave Wappers (1803-1874) and his registrar Hendrik Conscience, the academy faced significant restructuring. The academy's significant art collection was exhibited in its own gallery space. By 1890, this gallery would develop into the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Dutch; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten) and would move to its current location in Antwerp.

In 1880, a promising young artist Henry Van de Velde enrolled at the Antwerp Academy. He would become one of the pioneering 20th century architects and designers. In 1885 and 1886, Vincent van Gogh was also to spend a short time at the Antwerp academy, prior to his departure to France.

In 1885, King Leopold II commissioned the establishment of the National Higher Institute for Fine Arts Antwerp (Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten) as a unique post graduate program, inspired by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

In 1946, the Architecture program became an independent institute, The National Higher Institute of Architecture. Another key moment in the history of the academy would be 1963. A unique new course ‘Fashion Design’ started. This course was moderately successful from the beginning, but became world leading in the early eighties. “The Antwerp Six” with Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter Van Beirendonck, Marina Yee, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene and Ann Demeulemeester were hot issue in the media. Stylistically extremely diverse, these young friends had a huge impact on the contemporary fashion scene. The fashion program attracted more and more talents from all over the globe. With over 130 students it's by far the largest program in the visual arts and design department.

The Antwerp Six, comprised of Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Marina Yee, Walter Van Beirendonck, and Dirk Van Saene, is one of the most influential groups in fashion.

In 1995, the Flemish higher educational system faced a radical metamorphosis. The Antwerp Academy and the Henry Van de Velde Institute were included as faculties in a bigger college structure, The University College of Antwerp (Dutch: Hogeschool Antwerpen). However, the Higher Institute of Fine Arts was kept independent and to develop into a separate entity.

The Academy nowadays offers three distinctive programs: Visual Arts and Design, Conservation studies and a one-year dedicated teachers training. A body of 540 students (of whom 230 are international) work in the four main buildings located in the heart of the city: Mutsaardstraat (Photography, Silversmithing/Jewelry, Theatre Costume Design and Fine Arts), Nationalestraat (fashion) and Keizerstraat (graphic design). As of September 2013, the programs are offered by the "Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool Antwerpen", a fusion between Artesis Hogeschool Antwerpen and Plantijn Hogeschool.

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