French Corner: École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Nantes (August 2016)

Welcome to the "French Corner", the Consulate’s monthly rendez-vous dedicated to the promotion of France’s culture and patrimony! This August, discover the Higher School of Fine Arts in Nantes, and its cooperation with Houston University.


The Higher School of Fine Arts was established in Nantes in 1904. Since then, it has formed many great French artists like Jean Metzinger, well known for his paintings illustrating the technique of “divisionnisme” (below, left), who wrote the first major text on Cubism, explaining a part of Pablo Picasso’s artistic career. Neoplastic painter Jean Gorin (below, right), known for his use of geometry and primary colors, also graduated from the school.


The school welcomes about 250 students each year, and offers them a personalized academic career. They can develop their own technics and are helped achieving their personal artistic projects, while getting history of art classes.
Have a look at what the students can produce at the end of their education in Nantes: Final exam 2016
Below, some examples of freshly graduated Aurélie Poux’ work, who explores the theme of pain through drawings and sculptures.


The school also focuses on research, offering different thematic programs, many of which are multidisciplinary. At the same time, one mission for the Higher School of Fine arts in Nantes is to promote and spread an artistic education in the society, by getting people interested in contemporary art, offering courses for both children and grown-ups, and opening the doors of the school’s library to the public.


A new building will welcome the school in 2018. Located on the “?le de Nantes” (Nantes’ island), it will belong to the new “creation area” which gathers many schools specialized in innovation and arts, like the Higher School of Architecture of Nantes or the University of digital cultures. The giant mechanical marionettes built by the famous street theatre company Royal Deluxe, as well as La Fabrique, a place dedicated to contemporary music, are already big attractions of the area and contribute to its artistic identity.

The new building (see below) was designed by the French architect Franklin Azzi, and will look like big greenhouses with removable glass panels on one side, making it possible to create open-air spaces for special events or in summer, as well as a warm and luminous entrance in winter.


You can have a look at the project on his website.
Franlin Azzi also designed the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques, in Québec, Canada.


Since 2011, the Higher School of Fine Arts in Nantes and the Geneva University of Art and Design organize each year an international research program in Marfa, Texas, which has been a very important place for the American Land Art Movement. The program serves emerging artists, critics and researchers whose projects explore the link between art and geography. The program comes with a research grant, enabling the applicants to produce theoretical or practical works. In 4 years, 35 artists and researchers went to Marfa as part of the program, as well as 50 students and teachers. They particularly focus on questioning the place of art in public space, as well as works about the landscape or the borders.

In 2015, the Art School of Houston University joined the program. A symposium organized in May and entitled “Deserting the Site”, was exploring “the logic of the desert”. A broader cooperation for experimental research is now involving artists and researchers from those three schools under the name “Desert Unit for Speculative Territories”.

This year, thanks to the donations of several art collectors from Nantes, the High School of Fine Arts in Nantes bought some land in the Texas desert, where life-sized works will be created and exhibited.


This tight cooperation between Nantes and Houston has permitted some artists and researchers to get the Partner University Fund provided for transatlantic cooperations between institutions in secondary education.

For more information, please look at the following websites:

English website for the High School of Fine Arts in Nantes:

Website of architect Franklin Azzi:
Website of artist Aurélie Poux:

Last modified on 24/08/2016

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