Paris, 21 December 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
For this week’s Topic Of The Week on art schools, Art Media Agency met with Claire Macé, a young Parisian student currently studying at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg. This interview will offer readers a better insight to art schools in Germany from an inside view.
Art Media Agency (AMA): Could you present yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?
Claire Macé: I’m 24 years old and I’m currently studying at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (Hochschule für bildende Künste, HfbK). Art is, in my opinion, a way to express sensitivity and offers a land of possibilities. The great thing about art is freedom of expression and its variety. I was particularly influenced by the works of Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Beuys, Bauhaus, Mika Rottenberg, and by the world of theatre and stage performances. In July, I received the Merit Award from DAAD (editor’s note: an institute for French-German cooperation in education). I also participated in the Hiscox exhibition at Kunsthaus of Hamburg in November.
How did you get into an art school? What background is needed?
You just simply need to present an art portfolio that will attract the interest and attention of the judges. Luckily, mine was noticed. The portfolio should include a certain number of personal creations made in numerous mediums (installation, painting, sculpture, etc).
What are the admission taxes? To what extent are these criteria selective?
Indeed, the admission taxes are relatively low as only 20 out of 400 students are selected each year. However, fine arts in Germany are much more open to non-typical studies and not much is asked of students specifically, as long as they show an interesting and new production.
What is the cost of an arts education? What are the possibilities of a scholarship?
In Hamburg, right now, students have to pay the administrative tax of the total years of study, as well as their travel expenses, which in total costs almost 350 euros, including the cost of art supplies required. I should point out that this is the current situation in Hamburg, since some years ago, a law was voted and it installed a tax on university studies. Thus, in three years, the cost of education in Hamburg reaches up to €850! It was still not possible to pay the extra €500 until the end of your studies, especially in the case of student employees who could not attend all classes. Fortunately, this law was removed this year.
What kind of education are we speaking of?
It is mainly a modern education where we are more encouraged to liberate ourselves from academic conventions and to explore new supports and new media. Unlike Fine Arts in France, Fine Arts in Germany are not trying to make students masters of imitation…
How free are students when it comes to expression in their work?
Honestly, the range of freedom is the highest it can possibly be, there is no strain forced onto students, except the deadline submission of work. This type of education is particularly flexible and allows young artists to explore all kinds of ideas that will further enrich their art.
Does the school allow you to get in contact with actors of the art world?
Indeed. The school organises an annual exhibition that is open to the public and to students of all years, where they exhibit their works. This is a great opportunity for students who want to get noticed by the curators and gallery owners that attend the event.
Are all of your teachers from the artistic field? Are they artists themselves?
All teachers at Fine Arts of Hamburg are known artists, for instance, Pia Stadtbäumer and Andreas Slomensky.
What is their criteria of evaluation?
Since the margin of freedom is very wide and important to students, the criteria of evaluation depends solely on them. There is no expected criteria, it is all unique.
In what way are students supervised? What happens after graduating?
At the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, every student is part of a class led by a recognised teacher. The student can, thereafter, following their projects, work in different practical workshops such as wood, porcelain or metal workshops, etc. After graduation, artists begin looking for scholarships or prizes where buyers could help them with their needs. In the best cases scenario, the artist could be spotted by a gallery and becomes its new addition.
What are the relationships between the students in the university?
Unfortunately collective works are rare. Generally, there are collective exhibitions organised. It is true that the competition is very strong within the university, the same way it is in the art market, but it is still possible to have stable and deep relationships with some students.
What are the work possibilities after education?
Well, it’s important to note that only 10% of students can live off their art after finishing their studies. However, the majority of graduates get a job and continue their artistic creations on the side.
Are there any nationally or internationally known artists that studied at your establishment?
Of course, artists such as Jonathan Meese, Daniel Richter and Max Frisinger are all graduates of University of Fine Arts of Hamburg.
What is the difference between the French and the German arts education?
Art education in France is very restricted and too academic, it focuses more on writing and theory, for example. However, in Germany, education is free from the academic dogma since the 1960s and students have considerable freedom when it comes to the choice of their studies.
Is it easier for a young artist to exhibit in France or in Germany?
The German system and its conception of unofficial museums and galleries, allow young artists to exhibit fairly easy. In France, this possibility is very much more limited and art students are just happy with having one or two of their works exhibited in a trendy bar.