Gerrit Rietveld Academie
The Gerrit Rietveld Academy has its origins in the 1924 merger of three schools, which then became known as the Institute of Applied Art, or simply the Applied Arts School. From 1939 to 1960, education was strongly influenced by the functionalist and socially critical ideas of De Stijl and the Bauhaus, partly due to the role of the socialist architect Mart Stam as director of education.
Since the 1960s and especially the 1970s, the role and influence of autonomous visual art and individual expression have grown in importance. These influences, combined with a practical focus and a critical mindset, still determine a significant part of the academy’s image. In 1967, the school moved to its current academy building, which was designed by architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld.
When in 1968, the school became part of the system of the Higher Vocational Education system, receiving the status of an Academy of Fine Arts and Design, its name was changed to Gerrit Rietveld Academy as a tribute to the recently deceased Rietveld.
The Gerrit Rietveld Academy offers two bachelor's and four master's programmes.
- Foundation year: the initial year of the Bachelor’s education programme. In this first, formative year, a comprehensive art-theoretical framework is offered in combination with an intensive practical programme to introduce students into a broad range of media and techniques. During the foundation year, students also orient themselves in terms of the academy’s various specializations, for which they enrol during the following year.
- Bachelor’s: Within the bachelor’s program, it is possible to follow a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Bachelor of Design. There are various specializations within these two programmes. After a general first year - the foundation year - students choose one of these graduation tracks. This is followed by three years of specialization. The Rietveld Academy also offers a part-time education, in which case the foundation year actually takes two years, followed by three years of specialization.
- Master’s: The master’s programmes at the Rietveld Academy are housed within the Sandberg Institute. The Sandberg Institute currently offers four master’s degrees: Master of Autonomous Fine Arts, Master of Free Design, Master of Graphic Design, and Master of Interior Design.
- Preparatory Training & Orientation Year: The Rietveld Academy offers several preparatory training courses for those who want to prepare to study at the Rietveld Academy: a preparatory training year and an orientation year. During the preparatory training year, a student follows lessons at the academy for 3.5 half-days a week. After completing the preparatory training year, it is possible to enrol directly in the foundation year. Another preparatory track for the Rietveld Academy is the orientation year, in which candidates attend classes at the academy for 30 Saturdays a year. After completion of this year, a candidate will still need to apply for admission before he or she can start the foundation year.
- Preparatory Training on Aruba: Starting on 10 October 2011, the Rietveld Academy will also be offering a preparatory training course on Aruba, which will focus mainly on the Caribbean and on the two American continents. This preparatory course, which lasts for 30 weeks, will be taught by various teachers from the Rietveld’s Amsterdam school. This preparatory training year is a preparatory study track for the Gerrit Rietveld Academy’s accredited bachelor degree in Fine Arts and Design, which is scheduled to begin in 2012 on Aruba.
More than 45% of the student population comes from abroad, originating from over 60 different countries around the world. Most of the classes are in English. The Academy’s highly conceptual and experimental approach is aimed at research-driven students who consistently strive to research new areas and push boundaries.
Particular specialisations are Inter-Architecture; Fine Arts; DesignLAB; Graphic Design; Fashion; Jewellery; TxT (Textiles); Image and Language; Photography; Glass; Ceramics; VAV; and DOGtime.
DOGtime, the Rietveld Academy’s evening school, offers a two-year foundation programme. This is followed by a three-year degree track, with the choice of the following one of two directions: Autonomous Fine Art, or Interaction, Design, and Unstable Media (IDUM for short).
Students wishing to be admitted to the Rietveld Academy are expected to have an open mind, to be capable of self-reflection and to enjoy exchanging ideas. The academy aims to develop these qualities further, and to challenge students to constantly question things. For the academy, study trips are a crucial way of stimulating this mental flexibility. Travelling together to a new environment forces students to relate to each other, and to their environment, in a new way. Instead of generating passive tourists, the academy sees these trips as opportunities to stimulate fresh creativity. In the past, the academy organized trips abroad, e.g., to China, India, Iran, Nepal, Switzerland, Hungary, Spain, Italy, and Sweden.
Every year, the Rietveld Academy organizes a number of public events, including:
- Open Day (January): During the Open Day, all of the specialized departments highlight themselves through small exhibitions and other presentations. Teachers and students are present to talk about their departments, and to answer questions. The Open Day is a great opportunity to learn about what the education at the academy is like. The Open Day takes place every year on the last Friday of January.
- Rietveld in the Oude Kerk (January/February): In January, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy stages an annual exhibition with approximately 45 students from various departments, in Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk.
- Graduation exhibition (July): Every year, the Rietveld Academy’s students who are eligible for graduation present their work during the Rietveld's graduation exhibition. The academy is transformed into an exhibition space, and work can be seen from every department. The graduation exhibition attracts many visitors from outside the academy, including art gallery owners and art collectors. The graduation exhibition is held annually in early July.
- Rietveld UnCut (November): Much like the Open Day and the graduation exhibition, Rietveld UnCut is an occasion where the academy presents itself to outside world, in all its facets. Rietveld UnCut differs from the Open Day and the graduation exhibition in that it actively seeks to interact with the public. Since 2009, Rietveld UnCut has been organized by former students Tarja Szaraniec and Tomas Adolfs, in collaboration with the Flemish cultural centre De Brakke Grond. Under the supervision of guest director and visual artist Maze de Boer, students present their work to the outside world. Rietveld UnCut is held every year in November.
- Public Rietveld
Public Rietveld is committed to ensuring the broadest possible interaction between the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the outside world. That is why Public Rietveld is always looking for interesting forms of collaboration, both within the academy and outside. Its goal is to promote the presentation of the academy’s students and teachers to the outside world. Public Rietveld consists of: communication and PR, internet communications, The Rietveld Society, student projects, TV Rietveld, and Radio Rietveld.
- The Rietveld Society
The Rietveld Academie is very proud of the Rietveld alumni, and consequently would like to know how all alumni have been doing since graduation. That is why the academy would like to extend a warm invitation to all Rietveld alumni to become a member of the Alumni Network: The Rietveld Society. Through this network the Rietveld Academie hopes to keep in touch with the alumni and more importantly offer her alumni a platform to stay in touch with old Rietveld friends and other alumni.
- Studium Generale
Studium Generale Rietveld Academy is a comprehensive trans-disciplinary theory programme focused on students and teachers from Gerrit Rietveld Academy’s every single department, but is also accessible to the outside public. Every year, a number of curators are asked to invite guest speakers to address a specific theme. The goal of Studium Generale Rietveld Academy is to provide insight into how art and design are linked to other domains (from personal to political, from popular to academic) – the connections between our now and our past and future, and between our here and elsewhere. Based on the belief that you can only learn to think independently and critically if you dare to interconnect your knowledge, imagination, and reflection in unorthodox ways, every year Studium Generale Rietveld Academy embarks upon a new and exciting research project that is linked to the current discourse in a variety of ways.
- Professorship of Art and Public Space
The Professorship of Art and Public Space at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy promotes research and theoretical reflection on the role of art and design in the public domain. It was created through collaboration between the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, the Sandberg Institute, the University of Amsterdam, the Foundation for Art and Public Space (SKOR), and the Virtual Museum Zuidas. Within the Rietveld Academy and the Sandberg Institute, the professorship supervises a so-called “knowledge circle”, in which research (conducted by teachers affiliated with the academy, as well as by outside experts in the field of art and public space) is coordinated and discussed. In connection with the research conducted in this context, educational projects emerge in which theoretical notions and reflections are further developed with groups of students. In addition, the professorship focuses on extending and strengthening the academy’s theoretical education in general.
The Rietveld Research Residency (RRR) is a research opportunity for artists, created by the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in cooperation with, among others, the Fonds BKVB. The artists are given the opportunity to execute a clearly defined research project within a period of 1.5 to 3 years, as part of the educational framework of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Interaction with the academy’s students and teachers forms an important part of their work. In 2011, visual artist Henri Jacobs and philosopher Ann Meskens are filling this residency at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy.
At the Rietveld Academy, activities and projects are also regularly organized for and by students. One example is Radio Rietveld, which is run entirely by students. Gerry Strawfield is the academy’s student organization. Three times a year, Gerry Strawfield organizes a student party, including the Prom during the final exam period. The Gerry Strawfield Prom is often held at a special location; in 2009, for example, it was held at the Beurs van Berlage near Amsterdam’s Dam Square.
Notable (former) teachers
- Tijmen van Grootheest, Chairman of the Board of Directors
- Jurgen Bey, Director Sandberg Instituut
- Annelies van Eenennaam, Director Finance and Control
- Ben Zegers, Dean Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) & Bachelor of Design (BDES)
- Kees van Twist (Chairman), Director Groninger Museum (in function since 2008)
- Irma Boom, Designer (in function since 2003)
- Saskia Bos, Dean School of Art, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York City (in function since 2008)
- Robbert Dijkgraaf, President Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (in function since 2008)
- Eppo Horlings, RA Director of Horatio Assurance Group BV (in function since 2007)
- Rick van der Ploeg, Professor of Economics Oxford University (in function since 2010)
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