The Painting Department at SFAI thrives at the intersection between tradition and experimentation.
Throughout its history, it has been home to celebrated artists including Richard Diebenkorn, Jay DeFeo, Barry McGee, Toba Khedoori, and Kehinde Wiley, and central to movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Bay Area Figuration, California Funk, and the Mission School. Today, the core goal of the program remains unchanged: to challenge students to become risk-takers and innovators who continually push the boundaries of the medium.
Through rigorous studio work, small critique seminars, and individual tutorials with faculty, Post-Baccalaureate painting students identify their most pressing conceptual and aesthetic concerns and develop a cohesive body of work. Art history courses frame cultural and theoretical discourses surrounding contemporary art, and allow students to locate their work in larger intellectual contexts.
SFAI’s roster of visiting artists exposes students to a range of painting styles and models for sustained practice. The Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Painting Practices brings major painters to campus for public lectures and colloquia; recent visitors include such luminaries as Lisa Yuskavage, Chris Ofili, Gottfried Helnwein, and Wangechi Mutu. Other acclaimed artists come to SFAI through the Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship .
Post-Bac painting students work in their semi-private studios at the Graduate Center, open with 24-hour access. At the Chestnut Street campus, there are four large painting studios, two drawing studios, a work area for building supports, a large rack room for storage, and a critique/slide viewing room.