The period before foundation
Foundation of the Tbilisi Academy of Arts was preceded by active life. In 1874 the “Artistic Society” established the first primary art school in Tbilisi, the first one in Georgia. In 1901 the secondary art school, school of painting and sculpture, was opened under the patronage of the Imperial School of Arts of St.Petersburg. Until 1921 private art schools existed in Tbilisi and other cities of Georgia. At the end of 1921 the so-called Higher Art Studios were established, and at the beginning of 1922 Mose Toidze founded the People’s Studio.
Georgian society was well aware that all this was not enough to improve education in the field of art in Georgia. It was necessary to establish a high art institution where talented young people would continue their studies. Active work was conducted by the Association of Georgian Artists founded by Dimitri Shevardnadze in 1916. This activity eventually yielded results in 1922.
On 8 March 1922 by Resolution of the People's Commissariat of Education, the Georgian Academy of Arts (as it was called initially) was founded. It was the first higher art institution in Georgia and whole Caucasia, and one of the three Academies (Academies of Leningrad, Riga and Tbilisi), that functioned in the Soviet Union. The Resolution of the People's Commissariat stated: “The Academy, built on the principles of studying live nature, is being founded in order to promote all fields of plastic arts in Georgia.”
Initially four faculties were established: the Faculties of Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts and Architecture. Later, in 1925, a Ceramics Studio was opened on the basis of the CeramicsSchool. And in the autumn of 1927 the Department of Ceramics was established at the Faculty of Sculpture.
Since 22April 1922, the Academy was managed by the Professors’ Council consisting of: Gigo Gabashvili, Iakob Nikoladze, Eugene Lanceray, Mose Toidze, Iosif Charlemagne, Egishe Tatevosyan, Henryk Hryniewski, Anatoli Kalgin, Nikolay Severov. On 14 May 1922 the Professors’ Council elected the first Rector of the Academy, Professor Giorgi Chubinashvili, the founder of the Georgian school of art history.
In academic years of 1922-23, 156 students studied in the Academy; in 1946-47 there were 270 students; in 1973 – 848 students studied at four faculties of the Academy. At that time 204 professors and teachers worked there. Today 327 pedagogues teach 1380 students in the Tbilisi Academy of Arts.
Since 1930 the Academy of Art has undergone reforms. In 1929-30 it was transformed into a Higher Art Technical Institute with an industrial orientation. The faculties of Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, Ceramics and Lithography (polygraphy) were established. In 1931 the Institute was closed. And in summer of the same year it was completely cancelled. Instead the Faculty of Fine Arts was established at the Tbilisi Pedagogical Institute, which lacked appropriate base and relevant teaching staff. The Faculty of Architecture was attached to the Institute of Construction. On 1 February 1933 the Academy was reestablished, and since then it is named the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts.
The Faculties of Painting, Graphic Arts, Sculpture and Ceramics were restored. The Faculty of Architecture was restored only in 1937. (After the restoration the the Head of the Chair of Painting was David Kakabadze, of the Chair of of Sculpture – Iakob Nikoladze, the Chair of Graphic Arts– Mose Toidze, the Chair of Ceramics – Alexandre Pitshkhelauri, the Chair of Art History - Shalva Amiranashvili). Graduates of the Academy already appeared among the teaching staff: Giorgi Sesiashvili, Apolon Kutateladze, Lado Grigolia, Simon Nadareishvili, Korneli Sanadze, Silovan Kakabadze, Konstantin Merabishvili, and others. Annual exhibitions of students’ artworks have been carried out since 1933.
Repressions taking place in the USSR left its mark also on the Academy of Arts. In 30s of XX century wave of repressions spread on the Academy. Professors H.Hryniewski, V.Kotetishvili, A.Duduchava and others were executed by shooting. The situation of that time may be well illustrated by one of the orders: “The assistant Ioseb Gabashvili (the future famous illustrator) should be dismissed on account of his relationship with Trotsky.” Young teacher Valentin Sherpilov was expeled from the Academy for propaganda of “wrong ideas” (impressionism) among students. The Second World War had also a baneful influence on the Academy. Over 80 artists took part in the war. Many of them died (T.Balanchivadze and others). In spite of these losses and many other difficulties, the Academy continued to develop.
The Chair of Painting was established in 1943 headed by Sergo Kobuladze. In 1947 on the initiative of Davit Kakabadze the Theatre Studio was created, which was led by the artist himself (Later this direction was led by the famous Georgian theater artist Parnaoz Lapiashvili). In late 1940s and the beginning of 1950s creative freedom was significantly restricted. The artist Davit Kakabadze was dismissed from the Academy. In late 1950s and early 1960s a new generation of teachers joined the Academy. Collaboration with talented artists raised the level and authority of the school. In the 50s of XX century with the purpose of modernization of educational field in the USSR the Academy of Arts was exposed to the danger of closing. The Rector of the Academy of that time (1959-72) Professor Apolon Kutateladze made every effort to save the Academy. He visited Moscow several times and even managed to find supporters among the highest government officials. As a result the Academy of Arts escaped closure.
During this period attention was paid to the development of branches of applied arts. In 1959 the following departments were established: Artistic Textile Design, Artistic Garment Modelling, Wood and Metal products, Industrial Arts. The Department of Design of Plastic Products was opened in 1961. In 1961 the Faculty of Decorative-Applied arts was founded on the basis of all direction of applied arts. The Department of Restoration was established in 1966, which in 2004 was transformed into the faculty. In 1967, with great efforts of Professor Levan Rcheulishvili and with the support of Vakhtang Beridze and others, the Faculty of Art History and Theory was established. The first students of the Faculty graduated in 1972. In 2005 the Faculty of Restoration merged with the Faculty of Art History and Theory. The same year the Faculty of Media Arts was founded. In January 2006 the Faculty was joined by the Institute of Photography. At present there are five faculties in the Academy of Arts: Visual Arts, Architecture, Restoration / Conservation and Art History and Theory, Design, Media Arts.
The Rectors of the Academy of Arts:
G. Chubinashvili (1922-26)
A. Duduchava (1927-30)
V. Kotetishvili (1930-32)
G. Bukhnikashvili (1933-36)
S. Kakabadze (1936-42)
U. Japaridze (1942-48)
M. Duduchava (1948-52)
S. Kobuladze (1952-59)
A. Kutateladze (1959-72)
G. Totibadze (1972-82)
Z. Nizharadze (1982-87)
T. Peradze (1987-92)
S. Koiava (1992-2003)
G. Bugadze (2003- 2012)
N. Gaganidze (2012)
T. Varvaridze (2012)
I. Popiashvili (2012)
T. Kldiashvili (2012 November-2014)
G. Gugushvili (2014 up to now)