A Journey through 150 Years
Government College of Art and Craft, Calcutta, the premier art institution of Kolkata, is the pioneer among the few art institutions that can boast of celebrating the one hundred and forty fourth year of excellence in the art of painting and craft education in India.
We follow the methodical tradition of imparting a comprehensive, full time training in different branches of art and craft. Since the inception of Govt. School of Art in 1864, the year it was taken over by the Government, it has prided itself in being one of the most successful art institutions in India.
The journey that started under the guidance of Sir Henry Hover Locke did find at its helm, eminent artists like E.B. Havell, Percy Brown, and later Ramendranath Chakraborty, Mukul Dey and Chintamoni Kar.
Abanindranath Tagore, the key person behind the revival of the Oriental School of painting, had been, for 10 years, the Vice Principal of the institute till 1915.
Rabindranath Tagore stayed here for months and made approx 130 paintings, which were exhibited in the college gallery in 1932.
When Mukul Dey (1928 – 1943) was the Principal, the school started functioning as a co-educational institute. In 1951, the school turned out to be a full-fledged college and came to be known as Government College of Art & Craft, Calcutta (GCAC). The college celebrated its first centenary in 1964 under Chintamoni Kar as the principal, eminent sculptor and a disciple of Sir Henry Moore.
Today, the college takes pride in imparting art-education to aspiring artists in pre-graduate, under-graduate and post-graduate levels. B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts), a degree with honours with the affiliation of the University of Calcutta (CU) was introduced in 1983, during the tenure of Isha Mohammad, the Vice Principal and Officer in Charge. The post-graduate course with M.V.A. (Master of Visual Art) degree was introduced in 1998, when Biman Bihari Das was the Principal of the College.
In 2003, the College changed its syllabus as per U.G.C. norms and the Ph.D. programme under the C U was started in 2005. In July 2007, GCAC received the permanent affiliation of U.G.C. (Govt. of India) with Grade ‘A’ from NAAC. During its long traverse down two centuries, it has been a witness of the changing art scenario in India.
In Calcutta, a society for the promotion of Industrial Art is established with representation from both Europeans and Indians, with Colonel Goodwyn as its President with Justice Hodgson Pratt and Babu Rajendralal Mitra as Secretaries.A prospectus issued on behalf of the committee on 6th April, proposes to start a school of Industrial Art in Calcutta, with a view to provide instruction in modelling, engraving and printing.The school opens on 16th August at Garanhata, Chitpur, in a house donated by Raja Pratap Chandra Singh and his brother Ishwar Chandra Singh.The school shifts to Colootala in the middle of November.1855
The first art exhibition by the students of the school is held from 22nd January to 3rd February.
On 10th and 11th October, the first annual exhibition with the works of students takes place.
The school comes under the control and supervision of the Director of Public Instruction, Govt of Bengal, and is shifted to 166 Bowbazar Street, Calcutta.
Locke introduces extensive changes in curriculum.
Students execute some useful works for the Asiatic Society.
An art gallery opens at 164 and 165 Bowbazar Street to engage the interest of the general public in art and to provide additional instructions through examples in various branches of art.
The Annual Examinations becomes a regular academic feature.
Percy Brown takes over as the Principal and introduces some changes. For the first time, students were commissioned to prepare Industrial Art pattern Books for Dacca Silverware and Bengal Ivory carving.
A well curated portfolio of wood-cut prints is published by Ramendranath Chakraborty (the Principal), who introduced the first artistic publication of the original works done in GCAC. He retired in July 1943.