The two-year Master of Fine Art (MFA) program at the Piet Zwart Institute is an HBO Masters offered by the Willem de Kooning Academy, which is part of the Hogeschool Rotterdam (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences).

The Piet Zwart Institute Master Fine Art (Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design, option Fine Art) educates artists toward the fulfilment of their own creative and professional autonomy and encourages enrolled students to see themselves as agents with the potential to shape the field of international contemporary art.

Our ambition is to provide our students with a challenging, supportive and responsive learning environment and a curriculum that offers the creative structure and committed resources they need to develop their individual and collective senses of artistic purpose and agency. We recognise the inherent diversity of perspectives, methods, practices and channels of dissemination that are available to contemporary artists today. We strive to meet our diverse students wherever they are in their artistic trajectories. We offer them critical guidance and opportunities for experimentation and growth in their research and practice, leading to personal and professional validation. We motivate our students to sustain their artistic research and practice while navigating a highly competitive, economically uncertain and deeply evaluative field. We nurture the individuated, eclectic, imaginative approaches of individual artists while familiarising them with the strongly networked, institutionalised, linked, collaborative and collective realities that shape how art is defined and received in the wider culture. And we help them situate the contemporary relevance of their research and practice and create contexts for its exposure (display, publication, performance, etc.).

Fine Art maintains that in order to successfully enter the professional realm, students need steady access to creative resources, consistent exposure to and feedback from other actors working in the field, and socialisation into art worlds and sectors where trends shift, power structures evolve, financial support varies and hierarchies of reputation exist. Many artists face uncertainty when they graduate from Fine Art Masters programmes, and many work jobs outside the creative industries in order to sustain their research and practices. Our approach is geared toward alleviating some of that future insecurity by encouraging students to identify their positions, their motivations and their options. Our programme serves as an incubator for the negotiation of artistic and professional identities, as well as the formation of peer and professional communities.

Core Fine Art tutors are active arts and culture professionals, and our guest curators, writers, artists, gallerists, and fellow educators act as mentors for students and advisors to the programme. Relationships with the professional field evolve yearly, according to the research and practice needs and interests of our international cohort of students, and the current pedagogical projects and professional networks of our core and guest tutors and advisors.

However artists enter the professional field, they do so as producers of meaning. Our collective values are reflected in our pedagogical approach and structure, as well as in the subjects we teach in thematic projects and seminars, in the research and practice-led workshops we organise and in the pedagogical excursions we undertake. To illustrate: over the past two decades and throughout all relevant professional sectors, addressing inequalities in the globalised art world has been a major preoccupation. The need to decolonise institutions and create equal opportunities, the identification of arts work as labour, the regulation of working conditions and wage schemes for cultural workers, and the recognition that unpaid or underpaid cultural work provides massive cultural value, are being hotly debated and are having meaningful policy impacts. We have formally integrated these topical socio-economic developments in the professional field into our curriculum, in both structure and content, so that students can create, communicate, innovate, reflect, organise and cooperate at a professional level.

Web publication: Binder