Academy of Fine Arts

The Academy of Fine Arts is an international academy focusing on the fine arts – the only one of its kind in Finland. It offers first-class instruction in Moving Image, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Site and situation specific art and Sculpture, and is a pioneer in artistic research. The Academy of Arts has trained artists since 1848.

Kuvan Kevät 2016 -blogi


Integral to the studies at The Academy of Fine Arts are the students’ personal aspirations, the relationships developed between the teachers and the students, and individual guidance. The main focus lies on various workshops and practical artistic work, which are complemented by first-class theoretical training. Awareness of the traditions, combined with the versatility of the field is central to the tuition at the Academy. The teaching staff is composed of distinguished artist-teachers and guest-lecturers.

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree

The studies leading to the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (lower university degree) aim to provide the student with the artistic, cognitive and theoretical basic abilities and skills required from a visual artist. The degree consists of 210 ECTS credits and should be completed in 3.5 years. After completing their degree, the students have the resources they need to work as visual artists and to carry on to the studies leading to a Master’s degree and lifelong learning.

Master of Fine Arts degree

The Master of Fine Arts degree (higher university degree) aims to offer the students the resources to function as an independent and analytical artist in society and the world. The master’s degree consists of 120 ECTS credits and should be completed in 2 years. Masters of Fine Arts have a thorough command of the instruments of fine arts and an understanding of the current significance and history of those instruments. They are qualified to act as experts and developers of fine arts and are ready to continue to postgraduate education in art.

Doctor of Fine Arts degree

The objective of the Doctor of Fine Arts degree (postgraduate degree) is that the students have a profound understanding of their own field of interest and achieve the qualifications needed to create high-level, artistically mature work and that they are able to carry out independent, innovative research in their own field. The doctoral degree consists of 240 ECTS credits and should be completed in 4 years.

Subject Areas


In the Main admission procedure, students are selected to complete the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, which total in 5.5 years of study. Applications are invited annually.


In the Academy of Fine Arts’ Master’s admissions, students are selected to complete the two-year programme leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree. Applications are invited annually.


Students are selected for the two-year Praxis – Master’s Programme in Exhibition Studies through a separate selection procedure. The next application period will be announced shortly.


Students who have completed a higher university degree in an applicable field or hold an equivalent competence are eligible to apply for the four-year Postgraduate Studies Programme leading to the Doctor of Fine Arts degree. A few students can be accepted annually to the doctoral programme to study towards the Doctor of Fine Arts degree. The next application period will be announced shortly.

Teaching staff

The teaching staff of the Academy of Fine Arts is composed of distinguished artist-teachers who are actively involved in expert and reviewer responsibilities both in Finland and internationally. Tuition at the Academy of Fine Arts is based on the realisation that constant change affects contemporary art and the essence of artistic work, influenced both by domestic and international factors. The teachers at the Academy work as professional artists and are actively involved in the field of art and convey their experiences to the students.


Read Professor Fergus Feehily's profile here

Read Professor Fergus Feehily's profile here

Fergus Feehily  (b. 1968, Ireland) is an artist working within the field of painting, at times in the broadest definitions of the term, his work has sometimes been described as not quite painting and as having a peculiar relationship to reticence and revelation. 

Feehily has exhibited widely. Solo exhibitions include presentations at Capital, San Francisco (2015), The Suburban, Milwaukee (2015), Misako & Rosen, Tokyo (2013 and 2010), The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2012 and 2009), Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London (2011), The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (2011), Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne (2010) and Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2008). His work has also been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including Why not live for Art? II - 9 collectors reveal their treasures, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo (2013), Painter Painter, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013), Changing States: Contemporary Irish Art & the Francis Bacon Studio, BOZAR, Center for Fine Arts, Brussels (2013), Painting Expanded, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2011) and Twenty, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2011). His work is included in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art and The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Feehily has an MFA from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and studied also at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin.

Read Professor Ulrika Ferm's profile here

Read Professor Ulrika Ferm's profile here

Ulrika Ferm (b.1972 in Finland) is conceptual artist whose projects involve a lot of in-depth research and often are site-specific. The research often tackle historical and socio-political topics which create a solid conceptual underpinnings for her artworks. She mostly works in photography, installation and in collaborations often containing performance elements.


In 2009 she published the book Emergency Weather. Emergency Weather exemplifies a kind of multi-layered, process-oriented work-cycle and was developed on residencies and galleries in Dublin and Helsinki. A follow-up project – also related to weather – became an ongoing long-term project.


In addition to her artistic projects Ulrika Ferm belongs to an artist collective that runs a renowed project space and residency program called Platform in Vaasa which presents performance art and other site and situation specific disciplines. Apart from founding and working with Platform Ferm also has a broad curatorial and organizational work experience. Ulrika Ferm has already received considerable grants, prices and nominations. In 2002 she won the Young Finnish artist of the year award. Her works have been in exhibitions in Finland and internationally.


Ulrika Ferm lives and works between Finland and Berlin, Germany. She has an MA from PALLAS, University of Art and Design, Helsinki (1995–1998) and also graduated from Hochschule der Kunste (Prof. Katharina Sieverding), Berlin.

Read Professor Veli Granö's profile here

Read Professor Veli Granö's profile here

Veli Granö (b. 1960) shares the professorship of Photography with the Academy's Vice Dean Marjaana Kella. The position of lecturer in photography was changed into a professorship in August 2014 and will be open for application. In the meantime the position will be shared 50/50 until July 31st 2015 by Granö and Kella.


Veli Granö is internationally one of the most famous and esteemed Finnish contemporary artists, who works with photography, installation and film. Granö has often explored the theme of alternative realities in his art. His works have been shown in Finland, Europe and USA since 1983.

Read Professor Villu Jaanisoo's profile here

Read Professor Villu Jaanisoo's profile here

Villu Jaanisoo (b. 1963 in Tallinn, Estonia) graduated from the Department of Sculpture of the Estonian Academy of Arts in 1989 and taught sculpture in Finland, at the Art Institute of Kankaanpää and the School of Art and Media of the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, during the 1990s. From 2006 to 2008 he was the Professor of Sculpture at the Estonian Academy of Arts.


Jaanisoo’s works have featured in solo and group exhibitions both in Finland and internationally since 1984. As a sculptor, he is renowned for his versatile use of materials and his interpretations of the discipline’s traditions. Jaanisoo has produced great many works of art for public spaces in Finland as well as internationally. His previous responsibilities also include the post of the Artistic Director at the Pirkkala Sculpture Park in Finland and numerous expert posts and positions of trust.

Read Professor Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger's profile here

Read Professor Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger's profile here

Coming soon!

Read Professor Marjaana Kella's profile here

Read Professor Marjaana Kella's profile here

Marjaana Kella (b. 1961) shares the professorship in time and space arts/photography with Veli Granö. Marjaana Kella is one of Finland’s most internationally known photographers. Her works have featured in numerous domestic and international solo and group exhibitions. Kella was awarded a State Prize in photography in 2003. Her doctoral dissertation “Käännöksiä – maisema, kasvot ja esittäminen valokuvassa” was presented in the Department of Media of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in March, 2014.


Kella has been teaching since the 1990’s. From 2011 onwards she has worked as a lecturer in contemporary art and photography in the academy’s Time and Space Arts study programme. Since August 2014, she has shared the professorship in photography with Veli Granö. In March 2014, she was appointed vice-dean of the Academy of Fine Arts.

Read Professor Tarja Pitkänen-Walter's profile here

Read Professor Tarja Pitkänen-Walter's profile here

Tarja Pitkänen-Walter (b. 1960) is known as an artist who explores the extended field of painting. She explores painting as a vitalising action and process. The multi-sensory, material and spatial elements of the painting are often the themes of her art.


Pitkänen-Walter studied at the Finnish Art Academy School and the University of Art and Design, Helsinki. Pitkänen-Walter graduated with the Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006.


In addition to the Academy, she has taught at the Institute of Fine Arts in Lahti, the University of Gothenburg (Valand) and the Art School MAA. Pitkänen-Walter has been involved in Finnish and international solo and group exhibitions since 1982. She has also held a number of positions of trust.

Read Professor Anna-Kaisa Rastenbergers's profile here

Read Professor Anna-Kaisa Rastenbergers's profile here

Coming soon!

Read Professor Anita Seppä's profile here

Read Professor Anita Seppä's profile here

Anita Seppä (b. 1969) is Professor of Art History and Theory of the Academy of Fine Arts. Seppä is known as a specialist of art theory and visual arts whose research interests cover a broad range of issues, such as the globalization and the arts, the borderlines of aesthetics, ethics and politics, art history, visual culture studies, methodology of the art research and aesthetic theory.

Anita Seppä's educational background is in the Philosophical Aesthetics (Ph.D), Art Education (MA), Literature studies and Art History. At the moment, she also acts as an adjunct Professor in Philosophical Aesthetics (University of Helsinki) and Art Education (University of Jyväskylä).

Earlier, Seppä has worked as a Professor of Visual Culture Studies in the University of Arts and Design (now part of Aalto University). As one of the founding members of the Pori School of Visual Culture Studies, she has been actively involved in various research and administrative related tasks, acting, for example, as the Head of Studies and Research program, Vice Director of the Dept, and as a Vice Dean.

Read Professor Caspar Stracke's profile here

Read Professor Caspar Stracke's profile here

Caspar Stracke (b. 1967) is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker. His work takes place around architecture and urbanism, cinema and media archaeology. His films, videos and installation work have been displayed in exhibitions, retrospectives and festivals throughout the North and South America, Europe and Asia.


Stracke is Member of the Board of The Thing, a NYC-based nexus for art, activism and netculture and has curated exhibitions, screenings and discussions since 1999. Since 2003, he has been the co-director of video_dumbo, and exhibition/festival for contemporary video art in Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY.


Stracke’s country of origin is Germany, but he has lived and worked in New York City since 1993. Stracke has studied at the HBK University of Art, Braunschweig, Germany and holds a degree of Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Film (1994). Prior to his move to Helsinki, Stracke has also lived and taught in South Korea (Guest Professorship, Media Art at Ulsan University) as well as Mexico City.

Read Professor Annu Vertanen's profile here

Read Professor Annu Vertanen's profile here

Coming soon!


Research at the Academy of Fine Arts is closely linked to the academy's disciplines and related theories, methodologies, and teaching, as well as to the development of tools, materials, and means of expression. As such, research is considered the starting point for contemporary art. Interactions between different forms of art and the relationship between art and society are the domains for ongoing experimental research. In addition to contemporary art's dialogical relationship to its audience, performance practices and spatiality are linked to research, both methodologically and pedagogically.




Current research news

Doctoral Studies

The doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts emphasise artistic work of high quality and artistic research in an associated field. The objective of the doctoral studies is to provide students with indepth expertise of research in the fine arts and its significance in society. The goal is for students to attain the abilities needed in order to complete works of high quality that reflect artistic maturity and to be able to carry on creative, independent work in the field in question, as well as apply the methods of artistic research in the development of the field.

Read Professor Mika Elo's profile here

Read Professor Mika Elo's profile here

Mika Elo is full-time professor and director of the doctoral programme in artistic research at the University of the Arts Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts. Elo is renowned for his diverse expertise in artistic research, visual culture and media theory. His research examines the interfaces of different art forms, philosophy and media theory, the epistemology of artistic research, corporeality and photographic theory. In addition to research, Elo is also a practising artist.


Mika Elo (born 1966) received his doctoral degree in visual culture from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now Aalto ARTS). His doctoral dissertation Valokuvan medium ("The Photographic Medium", 2005, Tutkijaliitto) examines the starting points of photographic theory, especially in the context of deconstruction and the philosophy of Walter Benjamin. Since 2012, Elo has also had a lectureship in media aesthetics at the University of Lapland Faculty of Art and Design. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal for Artistic Research, Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, Tiede&edistys, Agon and RUUKKU – Studies in Artistic Research. In addition to photography, Elo has studied medicine, cultural studies, philosophy and aesthetics.


Elo was a researcher and coordinator in the Figures of Touch research project (2009-2012), and he curated the Finnish biennale exhibition Falling Trees (2013) in Venice with Harri Laakso and Marko Karo. In 2008-2009, Elo was actively involved in the supervision of the fusion process of Aalto University by acting as a facilitator to the steering group of the university's Media Factory platform for research. He also worked as a graphic designer for ten years at the turn of the millennium.

Read Professor Lea Kantonen's profile here

Read Professor Lea Kantonen's profile here

Coming soon!

Artistic activities

The artistic activities of the Academy of Fine Arts are one of the methods of instruction and provide the students a link to the society, the field of art and the art audience. The exhibition activities enable the students to experience their first taste of the working life waiting after graduation.

Versatile exhibitions

Regular exhibition activities are the most visible part of the Academy of Fine Arts' artistic activities. Every year, numerous exhibitions are organised in the galleries of the Academy of Fine Arts. Exhibitions are also organised in the facilities of collaborative partners, both in Finland and internationally. The exhibition activities adapt flexibly to spontaneous and open motions, such as art projects that utilise the urban space in creative ways.

The central location and a showcase for the Academy of Fine Arts’ artistic activity is the Exhibition Laboratory exhibition space in the Punavuori area of Helsinki. In addition to the six yearly exhibitions, Exhibition Laboratory hosts public lectures, conversations and performances. Exhibitions of students’ works are also housed at Exhibition Laboratory Project Room in the Hietalahti area of Helsinki. 

In addition to the rotating exhibitions, the Kuvan Kevät exhibition that is arranged every spring is a display of the Academy of Fine Arts master’s programme graduates' work. The Kuvan Kevät exhibition is hosted by Exhibition Laboratory and Project Room and other spaces as necessary.

Current exhibitions


The Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki is an international agent. International networking is visible on all levels of the academy: From the number of overseas degree students and dynamic student exchange programmes to courses offered in English, international workshops and exhibitions, guest lecturers, and the international activities of our doctoral programmes. The academy is constantly working to find new ways to engage in international activity. New collaborations strengthen the University of the Arts’ international projects, societal influence, and visibility, which is in keeping with our strategy.

Internationality in teaching and research

Internationality in teaching and research

The Academy of Fine Arts contributes to the research and educational programmes of the European Union, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and other international funding organisations.

We offer students, teachers, and staff several international opportunities including the Erasmus Programme of the EU. At the Nordic level, we are part of the KUNO network of sixteen Nordic and Baltic arts universities under the NORDPLUS programme. Cooperation with our Russian counterparts includes participation in the ARTSMO network for the Finnish-Russian Student Exchange Programme of arts universities and universities of applied sciences. We make bilateral cooperation agreements on an as-needed basis. The Visiting Professor programme is a framework for recruiting merited international artists for long-term teaching and supervision positions and one of the means of creating stable structures for international cooperation.

In addition to formal agreements and networks, we support the internationalisation of our students and lecturers by offering grants for study trips, exhibitions, and teaching projects in other countries. Students can use the academy's artist studios in Berlin and New York.

In the doctoral programmes of the academy, the activities are fundamentally international. The activities are organised and further developed as part of the European Artistic Research Network (EARN).

Since 1991, the Academy of Fine Arts has been a member of the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA). The ELIA members include some 300 institutes offering higher education in the arts in over 40 countries. ELIA’s sub-network for fine art is Paradox.

We also work with other national networks and projects which are aimed at internationalisation, including the Helsinki Education and Research Area (HERA) network.

We promote student and teacher mobility further by exchanges and visits to our partner universities, and award travel and exhibition grants to students going international.

Internationality in artistic activities

Internationality in artistic activities

Art and international contacts are closely intertwined at the Academy of Fine Arts. International workshops and exhibitions are at the core of our teaching.

During their studies, fine arts students have the opportunity to participate in various workshops, biennials, world fairs, festivals, exhibitions, and other events outside Finland. We participate annually in a large number of international collaborations. Exchange exhibitions with other universities are an excellent opportunity for students to explore how art is pursued at other institutions and network with their peers. Some of our collaborative relationships have lasted for years. Additional international experience is available for students at art workshops organised by the European Exchange Academy (EEA), such as workshops held in Beelitz, Germany, and Sunnfjord, Norway. Furthermore, Academy of Fine Arts students can participate in international workshops organised in connection with such large-scale events of contemporary art as the Venice Biennale, Manifesta, and Kassel documenta.

The academy residences in Berlin and New York enable studies in an international art localitnd teaching periods for invited artists, curators, and researchers at the academy, as well as enhanced working opportunities for alumni.


The Academy of Fine Arts operates in Helsinki's Vallila neighbourhood. The Academy's building has teaching facilities, student studios and staff offices and working facilities. The Library of the Academy of Fine Arts is open for all users interested in the contemporary arts. The Academy of Fine Arts is easy to reach, as a number of bus and tram routes run via the nearby Mäkelänkatu street.


Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki
Elimäenkatu 25 A
00510 Helsinki


The Academy of Fine Arts has two exhibition spaces: Exhibition Laboratory and Exhibition Laboratory Project Room are located in central Helsinki. The exhibitions are free of charge. The galleries are open from 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, except for periods in which an exhibition is being taken down and a new exhibition is being mounted.


Exhibition Laboratory
Merimiehenkatu 36
00150 Helsinki

Exhibition Laboratory Project Room
Lönnrotinkatu 35
00180 Helsinki


All former students of the Academy of Fine Arts and its predecessors, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts and the Finnish Art Academy, belong to the Alumni of the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki. Keeping in touch with other former students of the Academy is easy by joining the Alumni. At the same, you will be able to keep an eye on what is happening at your former school right now.


Joining the Alumni is easy. You need only to fill out this form, print it and return it to the Academy of Fine Arts. (Please note! The form cannot be submitted electronically.) The membership is free of charge.


Registered members of the Alumni receive invitations to the exhibitions and other events of the Academy of Fine Arts as well as a newsletter about other activities at the Academy. You will also receive mail regarding the Studia Generalia lectures and get a chance to listen to interesting speakers. The services of the Academy of Fine Arts' Library are available for Alumni members. The Publications of the Academy of Fine Arts are offered to Alumni members at a 20 per cent discount.


You are warmly welcome to join the Alumni of the Academy of Fine Arts!


More Information:
Head of Communications Eevastiina Aho

Open to all

The Library of the Academy of Fine Arts
The collections at the Library place special emphasis on contemporary arts.
Public lectures and events
Welcome to the public lectures and events.

Support the Academy

Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts
Kuvataideakatemian ystävät ry (Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts) is an organisation for all friends of fine arts.
The Academy of Fine Arts Foundation
The Academy of Fine Arts Foundation supports and promotes accommodation, artistic work, exhibitions, publication activities, and international networking among students of fine arts.