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Michaelis School of Fine Art

The University of Cape Town's Fine Arts department dates from 1925, and is known internationally as the Michaelis School of Fine Art.

Michaelis is recognised as one of South Africa's foremost institutions for the study of fine art at an advanced level. Special recognition is given to the school’s place in Africa, and the School strives to provide a stimulating and supportive environment in which both undergraduate and postgraduate students can achieve their full potential.

The four-year undergraduate program is composed of a combination of lecture and studio-based courses which develop student’s core competencies within the field. The lecture-based academic programme focusing on modern and contemporary art starts with Foundation course in 1st Year, Art History and Discourse of Art from 1st – 3rd Year – and Theory and Practice of Art in 4th year with an emphasis on independent research and writing.  Practical sections offer courses and majors in Painting, Sculpture, Printmedia and Photography with 4th year Studiowork allowing for cross disciplinary projects.  The Centre for Curating the Archive, the Katrine Harries Print Cabinet, and the Michaelis Gallery exhibition program supplement the academic courses with a range of events, exhibitions and guest lectures. 

In Postgraduate study, the school offers the Master of Arts in Fine Art, Master of Fine Art, M Phil specialising in Fine Art, PhD specialising in Fine Art, Honours programme in curatorship, Honours in Art Historical Studies, Research Master’s Art Historical Studies degrees and a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art.  For the Master of Fine Art degree (which includes a practical component), a study studio-space is made available for two years – but the allocation of space depends on the availability of space and the operational requirements of the school within the period of study. Our admissions policy recognises prior learning and mature-age exemptions.

Graduates move into a range of visual art areas including professional art production; media (film, digital multimedia, photography, design and advertising); museology and curatorship; art criticism; general arts administration; set design; art therapy; art dealership; and art education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

Michaelis graduates have won a variety of prizes and awards such as the Standard Bank Young Artist Award, the FNB Art Prize, the Tollman Award, the Sasol New Signatures and the ABSA L’Atelier Awards. Numerous past students have gone on to take up positions in tertiary institutions nationally and internationally, and many of our graduates teach in secondary schools and other institutions. Our graduates are regularly accepted into higher degree programmes at the world's finest art academies.

Distinguished artists and scholars are regularly invited to lecture and teach at the school and the impact of Michaelis graduates is felt throughout South Africa and beyond. Previous presenters include Mark Dion, Marsha Meskimmon, Themba Shibase, Jyoti Mistry, Jay Pather, Malala Andrialavidrazana, ruby onyinyechi amanze, Nadia Kamies, Siona O'Connell, Lynn Abrahams, Tauriq Jenkins, Nontobeko Ntombela, Koyo Kouoh, Penny Siopis and Mark Gevisser.

Graduates have presented works at a range of local and international exhibition venues. Marlene Dumas, Sue Williamson, Gavin Jantjes, Berni Searle (on the staff), and Nandipha Mntambo, are just a few of our distinguished graduates. Recent rising stars include Bronwyn Katz, Lungiswa Gqunta, Nobuko Nqaba, Thandiwe Msebenzi, Simphiwe Ndzube, Lauren Theunissen, Gerald Machona, Dada Khanyisa, Haroon Gunn-Salie and Mawande Ka Zenzile.

Visit the Michaelis School of Fine Art website.

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