NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Ai Weiwei, Jackson Pollock, and Georgia O'Keeffe are among the distinguished alumni of the Art Students League of New York.
"Art Students League is the most important art academy in the world for the last 150 years, roughly," said executive director Michael Rips.
The Midtown Manhattan building, in continual use by the League since 1892, is home to studios and galleries for art forms like drawing and welding. Each of its five stories is devoted to a different medium, with classes typically costing between $120 and $280 per month.
"It was one of the first art academies in the world to open its doors to women and to people of color," Rips said.
The League continues to prioritize inclusivity.
"We have no applications, so everyone is welcome here. You don't need to be a student. You don't need to be under 20 years old. We have people of all ages, all backgrounds," said director of external affairs Genevieve Martin. "[Say,] you're an attorney. You gave up that incredible ability you had as an artist when you were young. You come back. You refine it. You nurture it. You still get to be an artist."
The league supports freedom of expression through an open syllabus.
"We offer a protégé-like relationship, mentor-like relationship, in the teaching of sculpture, painting, printmaking, lithography, etching, etc.," Rips said. "And there's no set curriculum, so what you learn and how quickly you learn it is dictated by your relationship with the particular artist under whom you are studying."
"We're very lateral," Martin said. "We offer these different classes, and they're all kind of on the same level, and you cross-pollinate as you see fit."
The League is proud to promote a progressive philosophy in a historic setting.
"It's this sort of radical and brilliant seeming inconsistency between 19th-century pedagogy and the rather revolutionary work that is created here," Rips said. "It's a remarkable place known to too few people," Rips said.
The Art Students League of New York
215 W 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
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