The Städelschule dates back to an endowment made by the Frankfurt citizen Johann Friedrich Städel. His testament stated, that his extensive art collection and estate were to be the foundation upon which the Städel Institute of Art was established. The Institute should provide lessons “in architecture and those sciences included in the subject of art” (J.F. Städel, 1815) and from 1817 the stated purpose was carried out through estate bursaries given to individuals. In 1827, this intention became manifest as an educational institution, namely the Städelschule.
The institute has ever since been committed to support young people with an interest in learning art, irrespective of their gender, religion or social background. J.F. Städel did not limit education to a specific place, but encouraged international exchange for students to “be educated as valuable and useful citizens and artists” (Corina Meyer, 2017).
In the recent past the Städelschule has been influenced by its rectors: Raimer Jochims, Peter Kubelka, Kasper König, Daniel Birnbaum, Nikolaus Hirsch and Philippe Pirotte. Under the rectorship of Raimer Jochims, in the mid 1970s, the school published its first statute, that empowered all professors, teachers, the electoral bodies as well as the student representatives to cast votes in important decisions. This statute is still in effect today. Peter Kubelka introduced film and cooking classes at the Städelschule, hereby establishing a tradition maintained in form of a student-run ‘film kitchen’ as well as in the Mensa, the Städelschule’s canteen. At the suggestion of Peter Kubelka and Thomas Bayrle, Kasper König was the first curator to be appointed rector of the Städelschule. In 1987 he initiated the Kunsthalle Portikus and together with Peter Weibel founded the Institute of New Media as well as created the class for interdisciplinary art. Kasper König also engaged Christa Näher as professor of painting, the first woman to join the faculty. Appointed in the early 2000s, Daniel Birnbaum embedded the Städelschule within international networks of contemporary art. During his tenure, the artists Judith Hopf, Simon Starling and Willem de Rooij were appointed professors at the Städelschule. Nikolaus Hirsch developed long-term strategies to safeguard the Städelschule’s future. In this period, the school saw the appendment of Peter Fischli and Amy Sillman. Philippe Pirotte maintained these ideas and positioned the Städelschule in current global discourses. Under his direction, Haegue Yang and Hassan Khan became professors at the Städelschule. Since 2020, Yasmil Raymond has been rector of the Städelschule. This is the first time in its more than 200-year history that the school is led by a woman.
Literature on the history of Städelschule
An initiative of the Städelschule’s Friends’ Association (Förderverein), the publication Städelschule Frankfurt am Main. Aus der Geschichte einer deutschen Kunsthochschule (1982) looks back on and appraises the Städelschule’s eventful past.
Die Städelschule Frankfurt am Main von 1817 bis 1995 by Hubert Salden was published in 1995. It examines the Städelschule’s artistic history.
The publication kunst lehren teaching art was published in 2007 and gives an insight into the different approaches of teaching at the Städelschule.
In the anniversary year 2017, the publication 200 Jahre Städelschule was published, tracing the Städelschule’s historic origins and values.
Published in February 2019, the publication Städelschule Lectures 1 brings together various lectures, commentaries and dialogues from the past twenty years of the lecture program.