Glossary of Printing Terms:
Academy of Art

Academy, the Greek word meaning “garden”, specifically the garden where philosopher Plato did his teaching.

From that time, the term has come to reference a variety of state-sponsored teaching institutions. During the Renaissance, art academies began to form in Europe beginning with Italy in the late 16th century, France in the 17th, England in the 18th and the United States in the 19th century.

With these entities, the word Academy took on the meaning of a formal body of artists associated with unified purposes. These shared goals included the promoting of their national art, certain tenants of creating and exhibiting that art, and the conferring of special distinction with election to Academy membership—-hence the word, academician.

Academies are often rebelled against by innovative artists because of tendencies of academy members to embrace status quo or traditional work. Before the early 20th century, artists rebelling against the academies in America and Europe had few places to exhibit their work because museums and galleries were seldom open to rebellious movements.

However, the advent of modernist galleries and museums provided venues for experimental art. In New York City, places welcoming modern art included Gallery 291 operated by Alfred Steiglitz, the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

Today there is coexistence with modernist venues and the more conservative academies including the National Academy of Design in New York, the Royal Academy in England and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France.

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