Starting with 1859, Theodor Aman and Gheorghe Tattarescu submitted to the relevant officials proposals for the establishment of a modern institution of artistic education. Ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza's approval finally came in June 1864, at Dimitrie Bolintineanu's insistence - the then minister of Public Instruction. Under Aman's management, the Belle Arte School in Bucharest defined its own suitable organizational formula, inspired by the Parisian model, and afterward, under George Demetrescu Mirea's supervision it consolidated its academic prestige and diversified its specializations, by including the study of decorative arts. Following Mirea's retirement, Camil Ressu became the new manager and during his term the institution was recognized as a higher education establishment in 1931. Ressu was then elected Rector and thus presided over the destiny of the Fine Arts Academy until 1941. His successors were Eustatiu Stoenescu and Jean Al. Steriadi.
The educational reform imposed by the totalitarian communist regime in 1948 confused the traditional organization and led to the emergence of the hybrid Arts Institute, which joined together the Faculties of Music, Theater, Choreography and Fine Arts. Pressures of various kinds subsequently threatened the natural development of artistic education. New courses, ideologically informed, were introduced, which rendered obvious the intention of subjugating the artists and of imposing the themes and aesthetics of socialist realism.
Nevertheless, the institute's autonomy was regained rather soon, in 1950, when the "Nicolae Grigorescu" Institute of Fine Arts was established and the institution managed to preserve for the upcoming decades the prestige fitting its mission. The quality of the educational process was ensured by the keen politics of the rectors who held office, politics which set to recruit the teaching personnel from among the great personalities in our artistic environment in the interwar period and subsequently from among the cultural personalities of the first postwar decades: Nicolae Darascu, Corneliu Baba, Alexandru Ciucurencu, Stefan Constantinescu, Rudolf Schweitzer-Cumpana,Corneliu Medrea, Ion Lucian Murnu, doctor Gheorghe Ghitescu, architect Horia Teodoru, but also the art critics Eugen Schileru, Ion Frunzetti, Dan Haulica, a.o. By training successive generation of engravers to the level of excellence, professor Simion Iuca taught in the Bucharest School starting from the fourth to the ninth decade this art of Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The ideological respite characteristic of the period 1964-1969 also coincided with the School's Centenary (1964) when, through Rector Costin Ioanid's efforts, the institution was supported in consolidating its reputation by continuing to recruit remarkable professors - Zoe Baicoianu, Ion Bitzan, Alexandru Bratasanu, Mac Constantinescu, a.o. - and in diversifying the departments of decorative arts, established back in 1948. Consequently, the departments of the art of metal, glass, fashion, film and television scenography were established in the seventh decade. In 1969, through the efforts of architect professor Paul Bortnovschi, the department of the Aesthetics of Industrial Forms was founded. Starting with the 1950s, the department of Art History became an integral part of the Institute, being founded by George Oprescu before the war at the University. The Institute will subsequently (1979-1980) ensure the survival of the Art History Institute and of specializations and assets belonging to the Direction for Historical Monuments, disbanded in 1978, through the efforts of the then rector, professor Vasile Dragut. On this occasion, the education in the fields of conservation and restoration of the artistic patrimony was established within the Institute.
In the years following the fall of the communist regime, elements from the interwar tradition were revived all throughout 1990, and both the professors and the students requested that the Institute return to the established name, the Art Academy in Bucharest, and that an appropriate duration of studies be introduced, compulsory distributions be cancelled, a.s.o. During sculptor Mircea Spataru's terms as Rector, the teaching personnel was refreshed and consolidated (and the generational succession was ensured) by recruiting based on the criterion of excellence in creation renowned artists of the sixth and seventh decades, such as painters Gheorghe Anghel, Florin Ciubotaru, Stefan Caltia, Sorin Ilfoveanu, Horia Pastina, sculptors Mihai Buculei, Vasile Gorduz, Napoleon Tiron, Paul Vasilescu, graphic artists Nicolae Aurel Alexi, Aurel Bulacu, Victor Ciobanu, Nistor Coita, Mircia Dumitrescu, Mihail Manescu a.o., as well as by recruiting younger or very young plastic artists. Also during this interval, a new faculty was established in 1992, in the field of Art History and Theory; its nucleus was the former department with the same name, revived after 1989, to which the departments of Art pedagogy, Restoration and Photo-Video Art would be added.
In order to harmonize with the European educational system, which as a matter of fact governed the very genesis of artistic education in Bucharest, the Art Academy was accredited in 1998 as a university. The current name of National University, received in 2001, certifies the level of excellence reached after a century and a half of educational experiments, a period in which the departments have been populated by exceptional artists and researchers of the Romanian artistic phenomenon. Our former students have found their own paths in the local - sometimes even international - artistic context, many of them choosing a career in the field of education, which explains the depth and stability of the pedagogical tradition in the field, in the Romanian capital.
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