150 years of art: introduction

The Yale School of Art was an afterthought. Until it became the best.

Yale School of Art/Lisa Kereszi ’00MFA

Yale School of Art/Lisa Kereszi ’00MFA

Artist at work: Jacob Broussard ’19MFA in his painting studio as a student. View full image

A century and a half have gone by since the first three students began taking classes at Yale’s art school. In 1869, the brand-new school was not particularly esteemed on campus. For one thing, it admitted women—then an anomaly for Yale. And for many decades, it produced few major artists. 

But all that changed. In the following pages, we’ve provided a brief guide to the art school that has long been considered the best in the nation.

First, an essay by Robin Cembalest ’82, former executive editor of ARTnews, introduces the drive and talent of the school and its students and alumni. Next is a short history by our own executive editor, Mark Alden Branch ’86, sketching the school’s growth and how it became a powerhouse.

And finally, we’ve chosen ten of the school’s alumni whose works we feature here. Caveat: the Yale School of Art has produced more extraordinary artists and more extraordinary art than we could fit into even a full year’s worth of magazines. We can’t do justice to them all. So we’ve chosen for breadth, and for a sense of history. 


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