The Russian Academy Of Arts


1757-1764 – “Academy of  Three Noble Arts” (Painting, Sculpture and Architecture)

Peter the Great’s plan to create  a Russian  artistic school came to fruition on November 6, 1757, when the Academy of Three Noble Arts was established  by the Senate Edict in the reign of Empress Elizabeth on the initiative of Ivan Shuvalov, a noted enlightener of that time.

The first curator of the Academy Ivan Shuvalov brought in  teachers from  Europe, attracted  first Russian students to be trained at the Academy  and donated his remarkable private fine arts collection that became a core of the Academy Museum and Library.

1764-1918 – Imperial Academy of Arts

In   1764, Catherine the Great emphasized the significance of the Academy by proclaiming it the Imperial Academy of Arts, approved  its Statute and staff and granted the Academy a special privilege. The construction of the imposing building of the Imperial Academy of Arts  in Neo-Classical style overlooking the Neva-River designed by Alexander Kokorinov and Jean Vallin de la Mothe also took place in 1764 and was completed in 1788.

The Imperial Academy of Arts was one of the most progressive cultural entities in those days. The Academy’s first homegrown talents, such  artists and architects as A. Losenko, F. Shubin, V. Bazhenov, F. Rokotov, testified to the high level of art education in Russia. The Academy students studied all the pictorial and graphic genres, as well as the art of sculpture and architecture. The most gifted of them were given scholarships to continue their education in France and Italy.   Later, its roll call of graduates included eminent painters A. Ivanov, K. Bryullov who with his masterpiece “The Last Day of Pompeii” became the first Academy painter to enjoy an international reputation in 1834  when it won the Grand Prix at the Paris Salon, I. Repin, V. Polenov, V. Surikov; sculptors  I. Martos, V. Demut-Malinovski, S. Pimenov, I. Prokofiev, M. Antokolski; architects A. Voronikhin, N. Benois, K. Ton, I. Fomin, V. Shuko and many others.

Emperor Nicholas 1, who was an enthusiastic patron of the Academy, through the Edict dated 1829 granted the Academy his royal patronage. From 1830 to 1833 there was a large-scale renovation of the Academy interiors: the conference hall was turned into a gallery and a new splendid conference hall was built. Simultaneously, the Academy started decoration of its private church of St. Catherine. According to Ton’s design, the engineer Adam constructed a new Academy “pier” on the Neva-river embankment which granite flanks were adorned by rose-granite Egyptian sphinxes weighing 32 tons apiece.

Since 1843 the Imperial Academy of Arts was headed exclusively by members of the Russian Imperial family.   

Till the turn of the 20th century, the Academy was the only in Russia higher art education institute, but its activity was not limited by training. The Academy  commissioned works of art,  promoted  the introduction of various art forms  and techniques, contributed to the enrichment of museum collections, arranged numerous Academy exhibitions and was a major research center engaged in conservation and restoration of works of art.

The Academy was involved in elaboration and censorship of major architectural, sculptural and design projects that determined the image of the capital and other  cities of Russia. Teachers and graduates of the Academy participated in the decoration of such masterpieces of architecture as  the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, St. Isaac Cathedral,  Church on the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg and the biggest in Russia Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. In 1847 Mosaic Workshop was opened in the Academy.

The Imperial Academy of Arts initiated  establishment of provincial art schools and colleges and provided all possible support to them.

The Academy Museum, which was actively engaged in exhibition activity,  amassed a remarkable collection of Western-European and Russian paintings, drawings, sculptures,  architectural models and plans to be used as teaching aids.

The Academy was closely connected with the foundation of the nation’s first public Museum of Russian art named after Alexander 111 in 1898 (now Russian Museum) that originally comprised works from the Imperial Academy of Arts.

After the October Revolution of 1917,  in 1918 the Imperial Academy of Arts was abolished by V. Lenin’s decree, but its educational entity remained intact.

1918-1932 -  The Art College of the former Imperial  Academy of Arts was transformed into the Free Art Workshops, later into Petrograd State Art  Workshops to be turned into Leningrad Institute of Workers’ Fine Arts in 1930.

1932-1947 -  All – Russian Academy of Arts

1932. The  Resolution by the Central Committee of the Communist Party “In Relation to Restructuring of Literary and Art Institutions” put an end to the explosion of artistic styles and debates between various art movements and groups.  Socialist Realism became state policy. The Soviet authorities re-established the Academy and gave it a new title “All-Russian Academy of Arts”. The Leningrad Institute of Workers’ Fine Arts was transformed into Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and became the leading higher art education entity in the USSR.  

1934. The All-Russian Academy of Arts was headed by I. Brodski, the noted Soviet artist who trained students in the Academy Art Institute.  The teachers’ staff  also included  such masters as B. Ioganson, K.Yuon, M. Manizer, A. Matveev, V. Lishev, I. Bilibin, K. Rudakov, P. Shilingovski, V. Yakovlev, A. Rudnev, N. Trotski, I. Langbard, A. Osmerkin, N. Petrov, V. Meshkov, R. Frents, V. Sinaiski, A. Ostroumova-Lebedeva and others.

1941-1945. From the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War,  many of the Academy artists, architects, art historians, teachers and students were recruited for the Army and sent to battle fields.  Those who stayed in Leningrad participated in the city’s defense, evacuation and  salvation of  works of art.  Even in the siege of Leningrad the Academy continued to work affirming the values of scholarship and civilization in the face of Nazi aggression.

1946.  After the  War,  the All-Russian Academy of Arts was actively involved in the huge amount of restoration and consultancy work.
1947-1992 – In September of 1947 through the  decree of the USSR Soviet of Ministers  the All-Russian Academy of Arts was transformed into the USSR Academy of Arts  in Moscow  combining  national art institutes and schools in all the Republics of the Soviet Union. Full Members and founders of the USSR Academy of Arts were  M. Avilov, V. Baksheev,  A. Gerasimov,   S. Gerasimov, I. Grabar, A. Deineka, V. Epifanov, T. Zalkalnc, B. Ioganson, V. Kasyan, P. Konchalovski, P. Krylov, M. Kupriyanov, , M. Manizer, S. Merkulov, V. Mukhina, Ya. Nickoladze, I. Pavlov, A. Plastov,  P. Sabsai, M. Saryan, N. Sokolov, M. Toidze, F. Fedorovski, A. Shovkunenko, K. Yuon, V. Yakovlev.
     At the first session of the USSR Academy of Arts in 1947 were elected its corresponding members: Z. Azgur, F. Bogorodski, E. Vuchetich, A. Zamoshkin, E. Katsman, V. Kemenov, A. Lebedev, V. Lobanov, N. Mashkovetsev, D. Nalbandyan,  G. Ryazhski, I. Serebryani, V. Serov, P. Sysoev, N. Tomski. Alexander Gerasimov became the Academy’s President.
     The divisions of all major types of fine arts were set up in the Academy, including departments of painting, sculpture, graphic art, decorative and applied art
Since the establishment of the USSR Academy of Arts such famous masters as M. Manizer, F. Fedorovski, A. Deineka, V. Vuchetich, V. Mukhina, S. Gerasimov, G. Ryazhski, V. Kasyan, E. Kibrik, Ya. Romas, B. Ryndin were vice-presidents, members of the Presidium, academicians-secretaries of the above departments. 
1948. Creative workshops were set up in the USSR Academy of Arts  for perfecting skills of the most talented Academy graduates. Among the first heads of   the workshops were noted Soviet masters A. Gerasimov, B. Ioganson, M. Manizer, N. Tomski, D. Shmarinov. In the early 1980s,  creative workshops worked in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Baku, Tbilisi, Tashkent, Kazan, Riga, Minsk.

Annually, the most gifted graduates of the Academy art institutions from all the Republics  were commissioned works of art by the Academy and the Ministry of Culture of the USSR. The best works of art were appreciated by golden and silver medals and diplomas.  

1979. A big group of prominent architects was elected members of the Academy and a new division of architecture and monumental art was added to the Academy structure.   

     Art education was one of  the most significant functions of the USSR Academy of Arts.  Members of the Academy were at the head of the biggest national art  institutions: I. Repin St. Petersburg State Institute of  Painting, Sculpture and Architecture was led by B. Ugarov; V. Surikov Moscow State Art Institute – by P. Bondarenko; Kiev State Art Institute – by A. Lopukhov; Estonian State Art Institute  - by Ya. Vares.
     Full Members of the Academy M. Anikushin, E. Moiseenko, A. Mylnikov, Yu. Neprinchev, V. Oreshnikov, V. Pinchuk, S. Speranski, B. Ugariov,  lectured in I. Repin Institure in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, among the teachers of V. Surikov Art Institute were Full Members  M. Alpatov, M. Baburin, L. Kerbel, D. Mochalski, N. Ponomarev, T. Salakhov and many others.

     In the 1970s-1980s,  sculptors, architects and painters of the USSR Academy of Arts were involved in the decoration of principle squares and buildings in many cities of the Republics of the USSR including  the Moscow University building, Kremlin Palace of Congresses, subway stations in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Baku, pavilions of international exhibitions in Paris,  Brussels and other cities throughout the world; participated in the design and construction of new cities in the Siberia and Far East, children’s playgrounds in Adler,  All-Union pioneer camp “Artek” on the Black Sea, objects of the  1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow,   hydro-electric power station in Bratsk, Volzhski car factory, Moscow bridge in Kiev and many other design work all over the country.
     In the Soviet period  30 members of the USSR Academy of Arts  were awarded Lenin Prize, the highest reward of that time, including M. Anikushin, Ya. Belopolski, L. Bukovski, S. Virsaladze, E. Vuchetich, S. Gerasimov, A. Deineka, I. Zarin, G. Yokubonis, L. Kerbel, A. Kibalnikov, S. Konenkov,  P.Korin, P. Krylov, M. Kupriyanov, E. Moiseenko, D. Nalbandyan, Yu. Pimenov, A. Plastov, B. Prorokov, M. Posokhin,  N. Romadin, M. Saryan, N. Sokolov, S. Speranski, N. Tomski, Z. Tsereteli, V. Chekanauskas, D. Shmarinov, V. Favorski.
     170 academicians were winners of the USSR State Prize.     
     The Academy comprised ninety nine People’s Artists of the USSR, twelve People’s Architects of the USSR and 76 People’s Artists of the USSR Republics.
     M. Alpatov, A. Deineka,  B. Ioganson, V. Kemenov, E Okas, G. Orlov, M. Posokhin, B. Rubanenko, V, Serov, N. Tomski, V. Favorski, D. Shmarinov were elected members of European academies of art.   

1992. After the collapse of the Soviet Union,  by the Edict of the President of the Russian  Federation dated May 25, 1992 the USSR Academy of Arts  was transformed  into   the Russian Academy of Arts.

Since 1997 to the present day  the Russian Academy of Arts has been headed by the world  renowned artist and sculptor Zurab Tsereteli.