In the autumn of 1953, in accordance with the program of adjusting the departments of colleges and universities in the First-Five Year’s Plan, the Ministry of Culture went about integrating the academic disciplines of South China Institute of Art and Literature (Guangdong), Central South Institute of Art and Literature (Hubei), and Guangxi Institute of Art (Guangxi) and so established Central South Academy of Fine Arts (Wuchang) – the predecessor of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. Hu Yichuan, who then served as chief of the Party Committee of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, was appointed by the State Council to the school as president. Yang Qiuren, Yang Taiyang and Guan Shanyue were made deputy president.
Leaders of Central South Academy of Fine Arts
(From Left to Right: Yang Taiyang, yang Qiuren,Hu Yichuan, and Guan Shanyue)
In 1958, after securing the approval of the State Council, Central South Academy of Fine Arts moved to Guangzhou and was renamed as Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. In the same year, the school began to enroll undergraduate students.
Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Unveiled
In 1978, the school’s traditional Chinese painting, oil painting, printmaking, sculpture, industrial art, and other disciplines began to matriculate postgraduate students. In 1982, it was authorized to award master’s degree and so became one of the first schools of its kind in the country. In 2004, the school began to open training class for students of the same schooling as postgraduates. In 2005, it was approved by the Academic Committee of the State Council as a pilot base for the Professional Masters Program of Fine Arts (MFA), the only one of its kind in South China.
In 1986, the school was authorized to enroll students of continuing education. In 1987, it began to matriculate students from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. In 2004, it was designated as a training base for fine arts teachers of Guangdong primary- and secondary-schools.
Since September, 2004, the Academy decided to move all undergraduate students to University Town Campus and let the postgraduates stay on the Changgang Campus.
Since the 1980s, the school’s Traditional Chinese Painting and Industrial Design were evaluated as the Province’s core disciplines; sculpture as one of the Province’s preparatory core disciplines. Watercolor Painting, History of Western Fine Arts, History of Chinese Fine Arts, Construction Science, and Art of imitating Traditional Chinese Paintings were rated as the province-level core courses. Department of Art Education was chosen as a pilot work unit by the State Education Commission (now called the Ministry of Education). In 2003, after the adjustment of the list of academic disciplines, fine arts was evaluated as one of Guangdong’s core disciplines, design & art as one of Guangdong’s preparatory core disciplines, and watercolor painting as one of the province-level model courses.
2. The Tradition and Development of Academic Learning
As far as the history of Chinese modern art education is concerned, all the artists, who worked in the Academy and devoted themselves to art education, have become the Academy’s important academic resources. They are Gao Jianfu, Li Tiefu, Feng Gangbai, Fang Rending, Ding Yanyong，Ni Yide, Li Jinfa, Chen Zhifo, Ma Cai, Guan Liang,Pang Xunqin, Hu Gentian, Li Hua, Lai Shaoqi, Deng Bai, Huang Shaoqiang, Huang Junbi, Zhao Haogong, Lu Zhenhuang,Wang Yilun, Zhao Yunxiu，Huang Duwei, and the like.
In the early years of the school, the teaching staff mainly consisted of art teachers from Guangdong, Hubei, and Guangxi, and graduates from Central Academy of Fine Arts and East China Institute of the Central Academy ( now the institute is referred to as China Academy of Fine Arts).The Academy’s leading teachers include Hu Yichuan, an important member of Yi Ba Art Society (which was deeply influenced by Lu Xun the renowned writer), Yang Qiuren and Yang Taiyang, memebers ofJue Lan Society (which advocated modernism of fine arts in the 1930s),Guan Shanyue and Li Xiongcai,the foremost exponents of Lingnan Painting School( which stressed the integration of Chinese and Western, ancient and modern art). The accomplished experts helped create a prevalent atmosphere of scholarship on campus and the whole staff led a life of simplicity, industry, and thrift. Thus, the school thrived rapidly.
In 1953, President Hu Yichuan, who was deeply influenced by Lu Xun Academy of Art and Literature, stressed that art and literature should serve workers, peasants, and soldiers, and politics as well. So the unique features of the school resulted. The great achievements were evidenced by the fact that the teachers and students created an abundance of influential art works in the early years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and held an exhibition of their art works in Beijing in 1964. In 1983, in the light of the reform and opening-up policy, the school proposed that art and design should serve economic development. As a result, in the 1980s, its leading position in the education of modern design was secured among all the academies of fine arts across the country. In 1985, the school went about the education of art in a vigorous way, and advocated the model of a few skills plus professional knowledge for art education, and so won the approval by the Ministry of Education to pioneer the program of art education. In 1992, the school proposed that the disciplines and specialties be divided into four modules: fine arts, art and design, art education, history and theory of art, and also recommended that the school should take teaching, scientific research and artistic creation as the central task, build a loving and intellectual campus, and develop the school’s properties. In 2000, when China’s higher education went forward by leaps and bounds, the school managed to expand the space of education and explore the ways of providing education in terms of its scale, structure, quality, economic returns, co-coordination, and development. In 2004, in an evaluation conducted by the Ministry of Education, the school’s undergraduate education was rated as excellent. Meanwhile, it stressed the development of traditional disciplines, the promotion of art and design as the special discipline, the exploration of new inter-disciplinary subjects, the expansion of the scale of education and the enhancement of the quality of education. The above principles clearly show that different historical periods had different requirements for the education of fine arts and design and also demonstrate how the school pushed forward the education of fine arts and design at different historical periods.
3. A Galaxy of Masters of Art
Since the school was founded fifty-two years ago, a galaxy of accomplished masters have come to the fore — Hu Yichuan the pioneer of the New Woodcut Movement in China, Huang Xinbo the renowned master on engraved painting, Yang Qiuren and Yang Taiyang the distinguished educators of fine arts, Guang Shanyue and Li Xiongcai the great masters of traditional Chinese painting, Wang Zhaomin the well-known master of watercolor painting, Pan He the celebrated master of sculpture, Chi Ke and Chen Shaofeng the experts on the history and theory of fine arts. Besides, the famed teachers include Guo Shaogang,Jiang Jin, Xu Jianbai, Yang Zhiguang, Chen Xiaonan, Zhang Xinrang, Gao Yongjian, Tan Chang, Jin Jingshan，Cai Kezhen, Hu Juzhan, Zheng Shuang, Liang Mingcheng, Yin Dingbang, Li Ming, and Zhao Jian, to name a few.
In the past 52 years, the school has trained generations of outstanding masters of Fine Arts and Design. Some of these include: Lin Yong, Tang Xiaoming, Chen Yanning, Wu Qizhong, Wang Yuyu, Chen Jianzhong, Tu Zhiwei, Situ Mian, Huang Zhongyang, Wang Xu, Han Ziding, Wang Yuefei, Yu Xiyang, Wang Xizhi, and Liu Yang.
Today, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, one of China’s top 8 of its kind, which features the integration of Fine Arts, Design, Art Education, and the History and Theory of Fine Arts, the combination of the Industry, School and Research Institute, and the functioning of famed artists as the leading body, has become the most important center for Fine Arts and Design Education in South China. It has rendered meritorious service to the economic and cultural development in Guangdong province and to the country at large.