THE ANTWERP ROYAL ACADEMY
OF FINE ARTS BELGIUM
The Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts is one of the oldest of its
kind in Europe. It was founded in 1663 by the artist David Teniers
the Younger. As the master of the Saint-Luke's Guild of painters,
sculptors, engravers and book printers, he wrote a petition to the
Spanish king Philip IV, in which he explained that the guild wished
to establish a public and free Academy in Antwerp in order to '...
encourage the said arts and raise their esteem'. As an example he
cited the famous schools of Rome and Paris; the school in Antwerp
was to serve the same goal of aiding '... the advancement of the
said arts in the States of Your Majesty’.
THE FASHION DEPARTMENT
By the sixties, in our present century, the general opinion had stopped
considering the 'applied arts' to be of lesser value than the 'traditional
arts'. In accordance with the spirit of the times, a number of new
departments were added to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts: graphic
design, photography, jewellery, ceramic arts and Fashion design.
Mary Prijot championed the establishment of a fully-fledged fashion
department within the Academy. She gave the fashion department an
international appeal and set very high creative standards. Together
with Marthe Van Leemput, who added the subjects of tailoring and
pattern design to the curriculum, she drew up a blueprint for the
fashion department, a plan that still serves its purpose extremely
well. Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter van Beirendonck,
Dirk Van Saene, Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela are designers
who graduated from the Academy in the beginning of the eighties,
when the fashion department was under the patronage of Mary Prijot.