The Rijksakademie was established in 1870 by King William III. For the first one hundred years it served as a classical academy and taught artists such as August Allebé, Hendrik Berlage, Piet Mondriaan, Constant and Karel Appel. In the 1980s the Rijksakademie changed its course; classrooms were closed down and teaching programmes abandoned in favour of individual studios and critical dialogue with advisors. Since the 1990s the perspective grew increasingly global by inviting artists from Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. This shift in direction has led to our current two-year residency structure, which is distinguished by its international scope and diversity of artistic positions.
In 1992 the residency moved from Stadhouderskade 86 to the Kavallerie-Kazerne (cavalry barracks) on the Sarphatistraat. The monument, rebuilt by architect Koen van Velsen, enabled the opportunity to expand technical facilities, and therefore stimulate a wider range of practices. Workshops specialised in paint, printing, ceramics, mould making, metal, electronics, wood and (digital) media such as photography, video, film and sound have prominent places in the former stables ever since. The building also houses our public library and an extensive (historical) art collection.
For over 150 years, the Rijksakademie has been invested in artistic development and forward-thinking art. Departing from the vision that artists play an essential role in an open and innovative society, we create the conditions for artists to thrive, and to keep reimagining the transformative power of art.
In our residency programme we house an artist community that is highly international, multi-disciplinary, experimental and critically engaged. Up to 50 artists are open to challenging themselves, and to working alongside positions that are vastly different from their own. Spending up to two years in residence, they enter into an open-ended process where they can deepen their practices, and explore new territories, in and beyond the art field.
Residents benefit from an array of opportunities for exchange, including peer to peer dialogue and visits from a wide range of leading art professionals. They have access to technical workshops, and guidance by technical specialists, who foster hands-on, innovative and collaborative approaches to making, as well as an extensive library and a historical collection.
Each year our Open Studios enables the artists to share their work with wider audiences in ambitious and imaginative ways. The public can also connect with the creative life of the Rijksakademie through our programme of lectures, performances and screenings that explore contemporary artistic practices and debates.
Rijksakademie alumni are active in diverse artistic and social contexts and their work can be found in art biennials, exhibitions and collections, through artist platforms or grassroots initiatives around the world.