Fine Art

Art theory, research and experimentation all play a prominent role within your study programme.

Art theory, research and material experimentation all play a prominent role within your study programme.

Studying (De)Fine Art at the WdKA means learning to define and redefine what art is – or can be – in relation to society. Our BFA department is called Autonome Beeldende Kunst which translates as ‘autonomous visual art’, a specific field of contemporary art. Autonomous (Autonoom) means self-directed. Art critic Brian Holmes beautifully describes self-directedness as an attitude in relation to others:

"Autonomy means giving yourself your own law. But men and women are social beings; we exist as ‘ourselves’ only through the language of the other, through the sensations of the other; and what is more, this shared language, these transiting sensations, are bound up in the uncertainty of memory and forgetting, the incompleteness of perception, the wilfulness of imagination, the specific materiality of expression. (2004:548)*

Our department focuses on the fact that we as humans exist together, in constant communication (both visual and linguistic). We share awareness of the influence of concepts and language in relation to the image. At the Fine Art department, we stimulate you to develop your own forms of making-meaning, and constantly (re)determine them under the influence of perception, memory and imagination, and the expression of these. An area in which art is positioned in relation to society – while still able to and daring to give space for new, incomplete, dis-articulated forms of imagination and expression. An area where you can - and will need to - redefine the rules and shapes of what art can be.

At WdKA (De)Fine Art you develop your artistic talent through a broad training in all aspects of the profession. Applied artistic research, concept development, ‘making’ skills, communication of your work, as well as entrepreneurial skills relevant to the domain of the arts. You engage with art theory and history in connection with current discourses within the arts. You research diverse artistic practices, learning and experimenting with various ‘making = thinking’ skills. Thinking is making and making is thinking… And you can discover writing as a (visual) medium, developing and presenting your ideas.
You will collaborate with fellow art and design students in one of our Practices. And through an exchange programme with one of our 60 partner institutes, in cities like Berlin, Bristol or Vancouver you can gain international experience. During your studies, you develop your personal artistic plan, in dialogue with your tutors and Study Guidance Coach.

We have a fundamental openness to what ‘art’ can be – both affirmative and critical.

After graduating you will be qualified for working in social, commercial or autonomous contemporary art platforms; as a maker and/or mediator in the arts. As a curator or a cultural organiser; as a social researcher using artistic means and methods; or you continue as a master-level student in fine art, media technology, cultural management or artistic research.
You have chosen a demanding profession: in addition to talent, it also requires a great deal of hard work, affinity with visual arts, and knowledge of the cultural discourses - combined with the will to experiment.

* HOLMES, B. (2004) Artistic Autonomy and the Communication Society. Third Text [Online] Vol. 18 (Issue 6) p. 547-555. Available from: [Accessed 19. October 2018]

Cover project: Identitat Tapá by Nash Caldera

Knowledge & skills

  • Concept development
  • Applied artistic research
  • Knowledge of art history and theory
  • (Critical) writing
  • Social researcher using artistic means and methods
  • Wide range of technical skills
  • Communication, presentation and entrepreneurial skills
  • Working in team and independently
  • Experimenting with different skills
  • Collaborating with fellow artists and designers
  • ...and more

Well, why is this art? Why isn't that art?

John Baldessari

Career opportunities

  • Artist/performer/writer/researcher
  • Curator
  • Mediator in the arts
  • Social researcher using artistic means and methods
  • Cultural organiser
  • ...and more

Next to 13 majors and three Practices WdKA offers its students high-tech meeting interdisciplinary spaces - Stations.

Stations are the place for creating prototypes, experimenting, remixing and improving your ideas. All of the Willem de Kooning Academy’s students and staff members are welcome to work in our Stations, regardless of their major specialisation, minor, elective module or study year. The Stations are where you can explore the viability of your ideas and find out how to turn them into fully-functioning creations.

Double Degree programme

Do you have an artistic or a musical talent, as well as a hunger for academic knowledge? You can now mix arts and academia in metropolitan Rotterdam. Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA) and Codarts offer you the possibility to combine theory and practice in a five-year Double Degree programme.

Want to study at Willem de Kooning Academy?

Apply now

Experience 4 years at WdKA

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