haute école d'Art et de design Genève Geneva university of art and design
Wednesday 2 May 2007
The Geneva University of Art and Design (Haute école d’art et de design, or HEAD – Geneva) was created in 2006 from the amalgamation of the School of Fine Arts École supérieure des beaux-arts, ESBA and the School of Applied Arts Haute école d’arts appliqués, HEAA of Geneva. The numerous earlier or more recent changes in its name and identity invite us to relate the course of its history.
In 1748, the government of the Republic of Geneva decided to open a state School of Drawing (École publique de dessin) which had already been agreed upon in principle in 1732. By creating one of the first state art schools in Europe, Geneva was undeniably doing pioneering work.
The opening, in 1869, of a new specialised school of art applied to industry confirms the use of the denomination of School of Fine Arts (École des beaux-arts) to qualify the former School of Drawing. The context of the industrial crisis then called for specification of artistic training. Placed under the general title of “Schools of Art” they were subdivided into the School of Fine Arts and the Specialised School of Applied Art (École spécialisée d’art appliqué), which in 1876 was incorporated into the School of Industrial Arts (École des arts industriels), installed in 1878 in the building in Boulevard James-Fazy specially constructed for it.
In 1897, the name School of Fine Arts was officially given to all of the training courses not attached to the School of Industrial Arts. The School of Fine Arts inscribed its name on the pediment of the new building constructed to accommodate it in Boulevard Helvétique in 1903.
In 1956, the School of Industrial Arts became the School of Decorative Arts (École des arts décoratifs), and then in 1974 a higher level was added : (École supérieure des arts appliqués). The School of Fine Arts became the School of Visual Art (École supérieure d’art visual, ESAV) in 1977, to become once more the School of Fine Arts (École supérieure des beaux-arts, ESBA) in 2001. These erratic denominations bear witness to the equally shifting ground of the arts, endlessly redefining its frontiers and concerns. We hope that the current name, HEAD – Geneva, will be a lasting one, to keep the university ahead of the rest.
Jean-Pierre Greff Director