The School of Humanities of Central Academy of Fine Arts （CAFA）, established in 2003, now has three major departments (Department of Fine Arts History, Department of Art History and Art Heritage, and Department of Art Theory); two departments of humanities and general education(Department of Language and Civilization, and Department of History and Philosophy), which have been transformed from the former Department of Social Sciences; a department of basic education (Sports Department), a research center of intangible cultural heritage and a special library on the theories of art history.
There are two first-level disciplines in the School of Humanities: fine arts and art theory.
In April 2002, the major of Fine Arts History was officially recognized by Beijing Academic Degrees Committee as a key discipline of institutions of higher learning in Beijing. With the contribution of many internationally-renowed scholars and experts, it has now occupied a top position among Chinese universities and colleges with international fame. The teaching program of Fine Arts History is divided into three levels: undergraduates, postgraduates and doctoral students and accordingly bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees can be awarded. Every year, students from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign foreign countries will be enrolled. Approved by the Ministry of Education in 2004, a mobile post-doctoral research station was established. In September 2017, the discipline of Fines Arts of CAFA, including Fine Arts History, was included in the list of the country’s construction plan of world-class universities and first-class disciplines (Double First-Class Initistive); in 2019, the undergraduate major of Fine Arts was approved by the Ministry of Education as the first-class undergraduate major in its “Doube First-Class Major Initiative”.
In 2003, China’s first Department of Cultural Heritage and the first Department of Art Management were established by the School of Humanities. Moreover, China’s first master program in calligraphy restoration and the first Intangible Cultural Heritage Research Center were built in the same year; in 2010, the major of Art History was formally established; in 2011, the School of Humanities was granted one of the first group of universities that could confer degrees in art theory; in 2015, the Department of Art Theory was established, and in the same year, the Department of Art Manegement and the Department of Art Education were separated from the School of Humanies to establish an independent school—School of Art Management and Education; In 2019 and 2020, Art Theory of CAFA ranked third in China and was included in the top 5% of the disciplines in Chinines universities by ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universites); In 2020, the Department of Cultural Heritage has been transformed into the Department of Art History and Art Heritage, and begin to recruit undergraduates.
Through the relentless efforts of several generations of scholars, the School of Humanities has gained distinct advantages in cross-cultural art history, art heritage and art archaeology, ancient Chinese art history, identification and restoration of ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy, Chinese religious art history, Chinese modern art history, Chinese folk art history, Chinese Art philology, Chinese and foreign art exchanges and comparisons, Eastern art history, Western Renaissance art history, Western modern and contemporary art history, art theory and visual culture research etc. In recent years, fruitful academic achievements have been made, and many teachers have won a number of national academic awards including the first, second and third prizes for outstanding achievements in scientific research (humanities and social sciences) in higher education institutions by the Ministry of Education.
The School of Humanities has extensive connections with colleagues at home and abroad, and has successively carried out academic exchange activities with many internationally renowned universities in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, Australia and other countries. It has established long-term and stable cooperative relations with INP (Institut National du Patrimoine) in France and Columbia University, Harvard University in America and the University of Bologna in Italy.
Great concern and support from the society has always been generously given to the School of Humanities. It has received donations from the families of Mr. Wang Senran and Mr. Zhang Anzhi. According to the will of the two gentlemen, "Wang Senran Award" and "Zhang Anzhi Award" were established. Over the years, a large number of students and teachers have received this honor.
In 2007, the School of Humanities of CAFA initiated the establishment of the "Annual Conference on Art History" in Chinese universities, which has been held for 14 sessions; mover, the School of Humanities has hosted the first, sixth, and eleventh "Chinese Higher Education Congress of Art History" , which has drawn widespread attention at home and abroad and has generated important impacts.
In 2009, the School of Humanities initiated the "First International Academic Conference on Ancient Tomb Art Research", co-sponsored by CAFA and the University of Chicago, and later on it organized and participated in another five subsequent sessions.
In 2016, the first Wang Xun Art History Forum, centering on “the way of viewing”, was initiated by young teachers of the School of Humanities, and in-depth discussions were made.
In 2016, the International Art History Society, CAFA and Peking University co-hosted the 34th World Art History Conference.
In 2017, "Art History in China—The 11th Chinese Higher Education Congress of Art History and the 60th Anniversary of CAFA Art History Department and the International Academic Conference" was successfully held at CAFA.
In 2019, the School of Humanities held two high-end international academic conferences. One was "Chinese Art in the Global Context from the 15th to the 18th Century", which studied Ming and Qing art from the perspective of cross-cultural art history; the other was "Re-thinking Modernity: Global Art History Conference", which discussed the methods and practices of global art history. The two conferences brought together dozens of top scholars in art history and art theory from all over the world. They conducted heated and effective discussions on the most cutting-edge topics of art history in the current academic world. The two conferences have been regarded as "the most important international academic confernces of the year”, which fully demonstrates the international academic influence of the School of Humanities.
Department of Art History
The Department of Art History is the first one in New China. Since its establishment in 1957, it has made outstanding achievements in teaching and research. As the originator, builder and disseminator of the discipline and academic norms of art history in China, the Department of Art History has been advancing in parallel in the three fields— Chinese art history, world art history, and art theory for a long time. Great achievements have been particularly made in the history of ancient Chinese art, the history of modern Chinese art, the history of Chinese religious art, art exchanges with other countries, the history of Western modern and contemporary art. In recent years, in the context of world art history, we have strengthened the researches on Eastern art history, as well as the art history of different nationalities.
Department of Art History and Art Heritage
The Department of Cultural Heritage was established in 2003. With "A Young Subject with an Old Mission”as its guideline, it focuses on the study of visual art heritage, and cultivates students’ practical skills in aesthetic experience and cultural inheritance. It has yielded a large number of researches on art archaeology, history of calligraphy, calligraphy identification and restoration, as well as intangible cultural heritage etc. At the same time, we have organized national trainings on cultural heriage and museum management, which has served the society, accumulated valuable experiences and produced wide and positive influences. In 2020, the Department of Cultural Heritage was transformed into the Department of Art History and Art Heritage. In the future, while maintaining the advantages in the studies of art archaeology, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, we will vigorously promote and develop new research orientations in cross-cultural and cross-media art history, telling the Chinese stories of art history to the world and demonstrating the significance of one community with a shared future for mankind.
Department of Art Theory
The Department of Art Theory was established in November 2015. It undertakes the teaching and research activities in the fields of aesthetics, art theory, art criticism, and visual culture studies in the School of Humanities and CAFA. The teaching and research activities related to art theory have been around for a long time in CAFA, and they have received special attention since 1950. By then, there was no teaching and research office of art theory. Aesthetician and art critic Cai Yi (1906-1992) and Wang Zhaowen (1909-2004), as well as art historial Wang Xun (1915-1969) successively presided over the teaching activities and other affairs. The existing Department of Art History was established on the basis of the art history teaching and research office. We advocate macro observation, strategic thinking and aesthetic analysis of the frontier issues in contemporary Chinese and world art. A teaching and research team of art criticism, visual culture research, and art communication is gradually coming into being.
Department of Social Sciences, Department of Language and Civilization, and Department of History and Philosophy
The history of the Department of Social Sciences can be traced back to the very beginning of CAFA. It undertankes the tasks of the teaching and research of humanities and social sciences of CAFA, including the public compulsory courses prescribed by the state and the public elective courses of the whole school.
The teaching of the public compulsory and elective courses of the Department of Social Sciences is usually carried out in accordance with the specific conditions of the school. On the basis of the prescribed syllabus, the lecturers will always strive to teach in an interesting and individualistic way by combining with reality. In terms of the setting of public elective courses, the Department of Social Sciences has in recent years deliberately learned from the theories and practices of liberal education at home and abroad to rebuild the curriculum system, especially the courses related to Chinese and foreign literature, history, philosophy and civilization. The elective course system not only forms a radial traction on the overall teaching structure of CAFA, but also gradually improves its own teaching content, methods and atmosphere.
According to the 13th Five-Year Development Plan of the School of Humanities, in order to meet CAFA’s urgent need for high-level humanities courses, and to meet the requirements of cross-cultural research and academic exchanges in the era of globalization, in 2020, the School of Humanities has established two humanities and general education departments—the Department of Language and Civilization and the Department of History and Philosophy based on the Department of Social Sciences
On the basis the teaching and research personnel of the original Chinese and foreign literature and foreign language teaching center, the Department of Language and Civilization will introduce more senior talents. While undertaking the teaching of foreign languages and related public courses in CAFA, it will expand the teaching and research in Chinese and foreign cultures we well as world civilizations; In particular, it will strengthen the teaching and research in the languages and cultures of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, etc., as well as the classical Western languages and cultures that are closely related to the study of art history.
The Department of History and Philosophy has been established to meet CAFA’s needs for high-level general courses of humanities, to stimulate the teaching and scientific research potential of faculty members, and to arouse the students’ interest in humanities and social sciences. On the basis of the teaching and scientific research personnel of the original basic course teaching center of humanities and social sceinces, the Department of History and Philosophy will introduce more senior talents. While undertaking the teaching of related public compulsory courses of the whole school, it will expand the teaching and research in the interpretation of humanities classics, the introduction to Chinese culture, history and philosophy of China and foreign countries etc.
Intangible Cultural Heritage Center
The Intangible Cultural Heritage Center is the first one established by colleges and universities across the country. For a long time, with an extensive social influence, it has gained remarkable achievements in the investigation, protection, research and dissemination of Chinese traditional folk art and intangible cultural heritage. We will further strengthen the training of teachers and professionals of folk art and intangible cultural heritage in colleges and universities, build the brand of the intangible cultural heritage center of CAFA, and enhance its social influence.
The library of the School of Humanities is especially responsible for collecting, storing, preserving and managing the various documents related to teaching and research. After vigorous construction, it has been transformed and updated from the original reference room to an academic and professional library. The existing premises have an area of 489.36 square meters. The total collection of books reaches about 100,000, and the collection of important overseas thematic documents and rare books and periodicals accounts for almost a quarter of the total. A series of important overseas thematic documents have been purchased, including the collection of Professor Poshel from the University of Pennsylvania (the archaeological art documents of Central and South Asia); the old collection of Vershbow Library (the history of Eurasian printmaking); Professior Leo Steinberg’ s (the most important art historian in the 20th century) books (European Renaissance and modern and contemporary art documents); and documents of Western civilization (ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome) etc. We have established and maintained academic exchange meachanism with many academic institutions at home and abroad, such as Beijing Palace Museum, Taipei Palace Museum, Shanghai Museum, Art Research Institute of National Central University, Art History Research Institute of National Taiwan University, Taipei Fine Arts Meseum, , Japan Kurokawa Ancient Culture Research Institute, Tokyo University of the Arts etc. Moreover, about 5,060 books have been donated by famous scholars and institutions at home and abroad. These core collections and constructions constitute the characteristics of the library of the School of Humanities and lay the foundation for it to be China's best library of art history and art heritage.