The Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALUO) is the oldest Slovenian tertiary institution for painting, sculpture, restoration, design, video, photography, graphic arts and illustration, and in 2015 it is celebrating its 70th anniversary. It operates within the University of Ljubljana (UL). It was established immediately after the end of the Second World War, on 8 October 1945. With this act, the efforts over many decades of Slovenian artists then studying abroad (Vienna, Munich, Prague, and Zagreb) to establish our own academy were finally realised.
During the times of post-war reconstruction and many dynamic changes in the second half of the 20th century, the Academy decisively marked the history of Slovenian art, as a large majority of the painters, sculptors, designers and restorers working in Slovenia, as well as the lecturers teaching today at the Academy were educated here. It was actively involved in all the crucial events in the history of Slovenian art. Its lecturers contributed to a rapid break with socialist realism, participated in the establishment of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts in 1955 and made important contributions towards the development of the Ljubljana Graphic Arts School. The successes of Slovenian graphic arts in the 1960s resulted in the Ljubljana Academy becoming the study centre for Yugoslav graphic arts. The conceptualism and the OHO Group, followed by retro-avant-garde represented by the Irwin Group, were started by the Academy’s students.
An important step in the efforts to professionalise and develop Slovenian design was taken in 1984 with the establishment of the Department for Design, today including the Department for Industrial Design and Applied Arts and the Department for Visual Communications Design. Since 1996, there has also been an independent Department for Restoration.
The idea to organise the tertiary arts programmes of the UL in a single new building was first conceived by the rectors of three different academies at the beginning of 1946. With renewed efforts, the academies again brought forward this idea after 2004. Details as to what would be the best solution for the spatial organisation of the arts programmes at the UL are still unresolved; however, we hope to find a solution that will soon improve our working conditions and, in this way, facilitate an easier involvement in the current trends in the area of artistic practices.
Slovenian partisan artists stationed in the liberated territory of Bela krajina, conceived the idea of setting up a Slovenian academy of fine arts.
The Academy of Figurative Arts (AUU) was established with a decree of the National Government of Slovenia passed on 8 October and published on 27 October in the Official Gazette of the Slovenian National Liberation Council and the National Government of Slovenia, No. 47.
On 7 November 1945 its first meeting was held in the apartment of Božidar Jakac at Ciril-Metod Square 21/IV with the following participants: Nikolaj Pirnat, France Mihelič, Božidar Jakac, Slavko Pengov (minutes taker), Gojmir Anton Kos and Boris Kalin. A few days earlier, on 5 November, Ferdo Kozak, the Minister of Education, appointed the above as professors at the Academy. Božidar Jakac became the first rector, while Gojmir Anton Kos was the vice-rector and responsible for the finance.
The first entrance exams were organized between 3–7 December and the enrolment of the first students to the newly established Academy took place on 15 December 1945.
On 7 November 1945, the first AUU meeting was held in the apartment of Božidar Jakac at Ciril-Metod Square 21/IV including Nikolaj Pirnat, France Mihelič, Božidar Jakac, Slavko Pengov (minutes taker), Gojmir Anton Kos and Boris Kalin.
Entrance exams were organized between 3–7 December and the enrolment of the first students to the newly established AUU in the north wing of the Poljane Grammar School took place on 15 December 1945. Waiting for the enrolment: Vladimir Lakovič, Ivan Seljak Čopič, Julijan Renko and Alojz Lavrič; the secretary is Vladimir Koch.
Student work in refurbishing the AUU premises supervised by prof. B. Kalin at the end of 1945.
Mounting the signboard in Strossmayer Street 1 at the end of 1945.
Regular classes started on 14 January 1946 in the adapted premises of the former lyceum library in the north wing of the Poljane Grammar School in Strossmayer Street in Poljane, and by February they were in full swing. By 1947, additional rooms in the attic of the same building were refurbished.
Already in 1946, the rectors of three art academies tried to realise the idea that the higher education in arts should be organised in a new building incorporating all three academies.
Professors of the new Academy: B. Kalin, G. A. Kos, F. Mihelič, N. Pirnat, S. Pengov and secretary V. Koch, January 1946
In the painting studio, in 1946.
Making the figure of a painter for the 1 May Parade: Julijan Renko, 1946.
Specialisation (postgraduate) studies in paintings, sculpture and printmaking were introduced at the AUU.
From this year onwards, the study programme starts with a mandatory, preparatory one-year course, which means that, until 1959, the study together with the preparatory course took five years.
A specialisation study in restoration and conservation was introduced.
The first student excursion abroad, to the Venice Biennale, co-organised by the students themselves, took place. The students were accompanied by Fran Šijanec, a part-time professor at the AUU.
The prohibition to exhibit independently or be involved in exhibitions not organised by the AUU was abolished.
Voluntary excavation work of the professors prior to laying the foundations for the new academy in Strossmayer Street: Marij Pregelj and S. Pengov in 1954.
Group photo with prof. F. Šijanec in St. Mark’s Square in 1954.
The first regularly employed female professor was dr. Jelisava (Špelca) Čopič, teaching art history from 1 February 1955 onwards.
The Academy was the only institution in Yugoslavia to introduce graduation exams. In these times, painters were allowed to use a brush only after three years of study. Until then they were expected to focus only on drawing.
Exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of the Academy of Figurative Arts in the Jakopič Pavillion, 6–15 June 1956.
Exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of the Academy of Figurative Arts in the Jakopič Pavillion, 6¬–15 June 1956.
Professors: standing: Riko Debenjak, Ivan Ogrin, printmaking assistant, Slavko Pengov, Nikolaj Omersa, Špelca Čopič, Boris Fakin (Igor Torkar), secretary Pia Vavpotič, Mirko Šubic, Karel Putrih, Maksim Sedej, Zdenko Kalin and Marij Pregelj; sitting: Gojmir Anton Kos, Boris Kalin, Gabrijel Stupica, Božidar Jakac and France Mihelič, 1956.
In the academic year 1959/60 the preparatory one-year course was abandoned because of the statutory shortening of tertiary studies.
The Academy obtained new premises in the former Vrtača Elementary School in Erjavčeva Street. The work was organised at three locations: the rectorate with the administration office, technical departments and some classrooms were at Vrtača, classrooms for senior students of painting and the department for printmaking were at the Poljane Grammar School, while the department for restoration/conservation remained at the National Gallery.
The first graduate from the AUU that started to teach at it was Drago Tršar, a sculptor who came to the Department for Sculpture on 1 January 1960 taking up the post of assistant after the death of prof. Frančišek Smerdu in 1959.
This year saw the start of constructing a new wing of the AUU in Erjavčeva Street, following the plans of architect Vinko Glanz and adapting the old wing.
At the first meeting of the Academic Council of the AUU in Ljubljana, on 27 November 1961, in the extended premises in Erjavčeva Street, the proposal for renaming the Academy of Figurative Arts into the Academy of Fine Arts (ALU) was approved.
In October, the Academy moved to the newly built premises, which still did not fulfil all its needs.
Move to Erjavčeva Street, to the new AUU wing designed by Vinko Glanz and the adapted old building, 1962.
Renaming of the AUU into the Academy of Fine Arts came into force with the publication of the decision in the Official Gazette of the People’s Republic of Slovenia.
The decision establishing a gallery collection was adopted at the Academy’s meeting on 26 June 1965, marking the 20th anniversary of the Academy. The first works of art were collected in 1966 and in March 1966, ALU’s Gallery was inaugurated. On this occasion, works of the current educators and the first-generation graduates were presented. However, the discussion about the formation of the collection started much earlier, at the meeting held on 7 December 1949.
Celebration of the 70th anniversary of Božidar Jakac, the first rector of the AUU, in the PEN Club at Miklič’s: the address of G. Stupica, next to him Tatjana and Božidar Jakac, 1969.
Avgust Černigoj visiting ALU: F. Kokalj, A. Jemec, A. Černigoj, M. Pogačnik, M. Tršar and student Stanko Hrovatič, c. 1973.
ALU became a member of the Edvard Kardelj University in Ljubljana. Now it is no longer run by a rector, but by a dean.
On its 30th anniversary, a commemorative publication was produced.
Completion of the first Bachelor degree in video at ALU in Ljubljana.
Restoration/conservation studio, 1982.
Prof. S. Tihec in the sculpture studio of the 4th-year students of generation 1981/82; Jože Vrščaj is next to the professor, on the right-hand side, 1982.
On 27 June, a decision was passed introducing a study programme in design that started in the academic year of 1984/85.
Up to this year, a total of 842 students graduated at the undergraduate level and 246 at the postgraduate level. The professorial staff was now composed almost entirely of ALU’s graduates.
In February of this year, a course in video was introduced – first as an elective course for the students at the Department for Design. In 1989, it became a regular course included in the arts studies. ALU was the first academy in Yugoslavia to incorporate this subject into the study programme. The course in photography was also introduced, but only for design students.
The course in illustration was introduced for design students.
At the beginning of this year, the Department for Design obtained new premises in the abandoned Utensilia Factory in Dolenjska Street 83. Before that, the classes were held in two locations: the central ALU’s location in Erjavčeva Street and in the attic of the Ivan Cankar Secondary-Student Dormitory in Poljane.
Professors and other employees from the Department for Design at the courtyard of the newly acquired teaching premises in the former Utensilia Factory: Zdravko Papič, Dean Tomaž Brejc, Radovan Jenko, Head Peter Skalar, Milan Pajk, Stane Bernik, Romana Lesnika, Lucijan Bratuš, Ranko Novak, Petar Dabac, Marjan Gnamuš, Jože Barši, Lujo Vodopivec, Grega Košak, Emerik Bernard, secretary Špela Rojec, Tomaž Kržišnik, Igor Rehar, Lojze Logar, Franc Novinc, Georg Gedl, Vladimir Pezdirc, Saša Mächtig and Bogoslav Kalaš. 1992.
On the 50th anniversary of ALU, a commemorative publication was produced.
On 30 January, an agreement to introduce the study programme in Restoration was adopted and since the academic year 1996/97, it has been possible to undertake Restoration as an independent study.
The postgraduate studies of all ALU’s programmes changed from specialisation courses into Master’s study programmes. The former specialisation titles were recognised to be equal to the Master’s titles.
The Department for Restoration obtained the premises for the studio work in Svetčeva Street 2.
The Department for Restoration also obtained premises in the building of the Rectorate of the University of Ljubljana.
Following the proposal of the Department for Design, the Academic Assembly of ALU decided, on 27 June 2002, to rename ALU into the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALUO). The Senate of ALU gave approval to this decision on 2 April 2003.
The first public protest of the Triad, the three art academies of the University of Ljubljana, regarding the unresolved spatial problem took place. It took the form of an occupation of the University building, a public protest rally in front of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, a cultural/art event in Prešeren Square, a march through the town, etc.
A public international invitation to tender for an architectural solution for a building incorporating the three art academies was issued.
On 23 June, the exhibition of awarded bids for the project of a new complex for the three art academies in Ljubljana was opened at the Rectorate of the University of Ljubljana. The Ravnikar Potokar Architectural Bureau won the third prize in the first round of the tender, and in the second round, completed in 2006, its bid became the winning solution.
Visitors at the opening of the exhibition of the awarded bids for the joint building of the three art Academies in Ljubljana at the Rectorate of the UL, on 23 June 2005.
After the Senate of the UL approved the renaming on 22 March, the Academy of Figurative Arts was renamed, with the endorsement of the National Assembly expressed on 30 March, as the Academy of Fine Arts and Design.
On the 60th anniversary of ALUO, a commemorative publication was produced.
Bologna studies were introduced for the programmes of Painting, Sculpture, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art, Industrial Design and Applied Arts, and Visual Communication Design, at which students can choose from among eleven different undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, including Photography, Illustration, Interactive Design and others. Now students can register for the elective courses of all the study programmes.
Bologna second-cycle study was introduced for the programme of Painting, and in the following year also for all the other programmes.
Due to a lack of space needed for the second-cycle study, the Department for Painting had to rent additional rooms in one of the buildings of the former Tobačna factory.
On the 30th anniversary of the Department for Design, a commemorative publication was produced and several events were organised, among others there was an exhibition at Congress Square in Ljubljana.
In the previous 10 years (2005 to 2014) a total of 429 students finished their undergraduate studies within the pre-Bologna programme of the Academy, and 181 students completed their first-cycle studies within the Bologna process; 229 students finished their Master’s studies and 9 achieved a doctoral degree within the pre-Bologna study programme.