of the Faculty of Applied Arts


The first organised teaching of applied arts in Serbia started in 1895, just a few months after Kiril Kutlik founded the Serbian Drawing and Painting School, which held evening courses for craftsmen, in order to “give the craftsmen the opportunity to practice and improve their professional drawing skills that are necessary for independent craftsmanship and cultivation of good taste.” Both as an artist and a teacher Kutlik was well aware of how valuable the artistic education of the young craftsmen is for the improvement of the artistic trades in Serbia in order for them to reach the European level.  


After Kutlik died, in accordance with the decision by the Minister of Public Economy, on 28th of March 1900, Rista Vukanovic, academic painter, became the School principal, with condition set by the same Minister that he should continue to assist the school financially. According to one report from the begging of June 1900, there were 65 students of various professions enrolled at the craftsmanship course. After buying the Drawing and Painting School from Kutlik’s widow, Rista Vukanovic continued his predecessor’s work regarding improvement of the teaching of applied arts, that is the craftsmanship skills, in Belgrade.


Still, the overall situation and changing cultural climate at the onset of the 20th century were in favour of establishing the first specialised pedagogical institution of this kind in our country, which opened in 1905 in Belgrade as Art-vocational school, with the objective of artistic improvement and development of certain trades. The Head of this school was Rista Vukanovic, at the time a famous painter credited with the advancement of fine arts in Serbia.

However, in practice, the new-founded school primarily focused on cultivation of fine arts, especially painting and sculpture. The school couldn’t even form a graphics workshop, and not even the fact that the famous Dragutin Inkiostri Medenjak worked there for years as a part-time professor, couldn’t help broaden the school’s scope of activity to include the field of Applied Arts. This hard-working enthusiast in the field of Applied Arts worked tirelessly on implementing new ideas in this field of Visual Arts. A lot of his ideas were ahead of his time while he strived to elevate his patriarchal environment to the European level of understanding of Visual Arts.


Art-vocational school existed until 1918, and after the liberation it continued to work as Belgrade Royal Art school, which, other than the premises of the abolished school, also used its entire inventory, library and numerous plaster cast models. From 1919 to 1937 this school educated painters and sculptors, as well as art teachers in high schools in Serbia, Vojvodina, Macedonia, Montenegro and partially Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Luka Mladenovic: Belgrade Royal Art school, 1929.


The idea to establish a High School of Applied Arts in a way came simultaneously with the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade (1937); therefore, the new school was opened the following year, in 1938. People who were the most responsible for its establishment were its future teachers: sculptor Milan Nedeljkovic, architect Djordje Krekic, painter Ivan Tabakovic and sculptor Mihailo Tomic.  Later on, they were joined by other teachers as well, mostly from Belgrade and Zagreb. Starting its work shortly before the onset of the Second World War, this school lacked the necessary conditions for continuous existence and work: during the four war years there were times when the school barely survived. 


Just three years after the end of the war, the School of Applied Arts was abolished and raised to the level of Academy. Its former students successively finished the school and moved on to the new-founded Academy of Applied Arts, which started working in autumn 1948. Other than the former students of the old school, after passing the entry exam, students from the other vocational art schools, gymnasiums, as well as exceptionally gifted individuals who didn’t have any formal education, also gained the right to enroll to the Academy.

That is why, from 1948 to 1951, the students from the old School of Applied Arts and the newly enrolled students took classes together in the same Academy building, following the same curriculum. Some of them later became highly distinguished professors at the Academy of Applied Arts. 

Branko Sotra, Academy Rector.

Even at the very beginning the Academy faced a series of problems and difficulties, which couldn’t always be easily predicted, or overcome.  Using the decrepit premises of the former Art-vocational school, which was build in the first half of the 20th century, couldn’t satisfy the needs of a modern institution of higher education. The Academy had a lack of teaching staff, recruited mostly from the ranks of Belgrade artists who distinguished themselves through their work in particular artistic fields or as pedagogues in schools. In the first few decades of its existence, a very important role in the Academy was played by its Rector, Branko Sotra – a distinguished Serbian graphic artist who remained its leading figure for the rest of his life, by constantly contributing to the development and affirmation of the Academy.  

In Nude Drawing Evening Class with Prof. Ilija Sobajic, drawing by Branko Sotra.

In a country that just emerged from the horrors of war and faced daily struggles with great problems of varying nature, the Academy tried to find its proper place in the ongoing cultural, economic and industrial transformation of the society.  Its primary task was to educate modern experts, capable of improving the overall visual culture of their environment, who would also influence the design of industrial products, modernisation of trade and artistic-spatial planning of their immediate working and living environment.   

Speaking of the conditions in which the Academy worked in those first few decades of its existence, one of its distinguished professors, Dr Pavle Vasic wrote: »It was a very hard and strenuous journey – to connect Art and Industry, and it was not all up to the Academy, its orientations and goals. There were other difficulties, especially when we needed to replace hastily trained and half-educated staff in the commercial sector.  We could say that we encountered resistance every time we won an expert position in the industry, even when the benefit from employing new, professionally trained staff was more than obvious. However, in that situation we faced subjective resistance that was not easy to overcome. Besides, we had to influence the development of certain awareness not only in the industry and its management, but in the general public as well. It is understandable that the orientation of the Academy changed over time and evolved towards new, amended goals, imposed by the rapid development of our society and its needs.«

In a quarter of a century of its fruitful existence the Academy developed into a recognised Yugoslav higher education institution, whose graduated students achieved significant results in their respective environments, working in former Republics and Provinces. Thus, the Academy influenced the development and promotion of Applied Arts and Design in the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia.   

Regarding the internal organisation, from the very beginning the Academy accepted some basic principles that applied to the similar schools in the world, also taking into account specific local conditions and needs. At the beginning it had eight sections – interior architecture, decorative sculpture, decorative painting, applied graphics, ceramics, textile, scenography and costume. Core professional courses were held by the same professors who also laid the foundations of this school and directed its professional orientation towards certain goals. They were not only excellent pedagogues, but also exceptional creative individuals with established artistic reputation, which warranted seriousness and thoroughness in pursuing set goals: architects Đorđe Krekić, Momčilo Belobrk and Aleksandar Sekulić (Interior architecture department), Radeta Stanković, academic sculptor (Department of decorative sculpting), Ivan Tabaković, academic painter and dr Sergije Lebedev (Ceramics department), Vasa Pomorišac, Vinko Grdan and Anton Huter, academic painters (Department of decorative painting), Mihailo S. Petrov and Matija Zlamalik, academic painters (Graphic department), Milenko Šerban, academic painter (Scenography department), Milica Babić, costume designer (Costume department), Ivan Tabaković and Iva Vrinjanin (Textile department). In the same group are the teachers of theoretical and practical courses: dr Stanislava Kolarić (Art History), dr Pavle Vasić (Costume History), Ivan Lučev (Anatomy Drawing), Branko Šotra (Printmaking), Jefto Perić (Evening Nude), and Dragutin Mitrinović (Textile Design). The course Art elements for years was held by Professor dr Pavle Vasić, and Basics of Visual Design by Professor Dragoslav Stojanović Sip, prominent painter who left a deep imprint in the work of this institution.

It should be emphasized that with each year the contact with foreign countries grew, therefore, it had a great impact on local conditions, especially regarding the development of Applied Arts and its introduction to the modern developments in the West.

We can follow the Academy’s journey from its establishment onwards by looking at the annual exhibitions from 1951, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1963 and 1965, and afterwards, the graduate thesis exhibitions from 1970 and 1972. We could say that the Academy’s endeavour to fulfill its role as best as possible in the era of industrialization became more and more obvious.

Exhibition catalogues, critical reviews, played a certain part in explaining to the general public what are Applied Arts, what are their purpose and benefit. In that way, the Applied Arts began to reach the broad layers of the working class and refine their taste.

Poster by Bogdan Krsic for AAA exhibition at the Pavilion in Kalemegdan in June 1955.


A new phase in the development of this school began in 1973 when the Academy was reorganised and renamed as Faculty of Applied Arts. The change of name was followed by some organisational changes as well: former sections became departments: I – ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN, II – CERAMICS AND GLASS, III – SCENOGRAPHY, IV – SCULPTURE, V – GRAPHICS, VI – COSTUME, VIII – PAINTING and VIII – TEXTILE. On that occasion the Academy also adopted a more complex and richer curriculum (30 classes per week), and the courses were being held in specialised studios with a more modern approach to individual branches of Applied Arts.

The process of rejuvenation of the teaching staff already began in the mid-sixties since the new generation of teachers, who were mostly graduated students of the Academy themselves, started to emerge at that time.

These are academic painters Rajko Nikolić and Živojin Kovačević (Painting), Krsta Andrejević (Painting Techniques), Aleksandar Tomašević (Monumental painting), Nevenka Petrović and Branislav Subotić (Textile), Dušan Ristić (Stage costume), Anđelka Slijepčević (Fashion Design), Zora Davidović (Costume History), Mila Rajković and Aleksa Čelebonović (Art History), Božidar Džmerković (Printmaking), Bogdan Kršić (Book Design), Miodrag Vujačić Mirski (Painting), Stjepan Fileki (Basics of letter Design), arh. Dragutin Tavrić (Styles in the interior architecture), Dragoljub Kažić (Photography) and Bogoljub Teofanović (Industrial Design). They were soon joined by Gradimir Petrović (Painting), Đorđe Rosić (Ceramics), Vojislav Vujisić, Miodrag Živković, Nebojša Mitrić and Nandor Glid (Sculpting), Miloš Ćirić (Graphic Communications), Borivoj Likić (Poster Design), Ljubodrag Marinković Penkin (Painting), Ljubodrag Janković Jale (Evening Nude), Borivoje Rakić (Drawing and Painting), Živorad Kukić (Scenography), Siniša Vuković (Interior Architecture), Vladimir Todorović (Painting), Branislav Makeš (Printmaking), Aleksandar Ajzinberg (Styles in architecture) and others.

In the years to come new distinguished artists, scientists and experts in particular fields of art began to appear and with their help, the Faculty stepped into the age of full maturity: arhitekt Nikola Kuzmanović (Projective Geometry), Mirjana Isaković and Branislav Stajević (Ceramics), Aleksandar Pajvančić Aleks (Graphic Communications and Packaging Design), Slobodan Đuričković (Drawing and Painting), Aleksandar Dodig (Calligraphy), dr Vladimir Rozić, dr Branko Vujović and dr Milanka Todić (Art History), Ljiljana Žegarac (Fashion Design), Danka Dokić (Drawing and Painting), Miodrag Bajić (Anatomy Drawing), Ratko Lalić (Drawing and Painting) and others.

Prepared by R. Ć.


Kirilo Kutlik and his pupils, 1895.


Owners, managers and teachers of art-vocational school in Belgrade (1905–1918): Rista Vukanović, Beta Vukanović, Marko Murat and Đorđe Jovanović.

Royal Art school, Generation 1920, the photo was taken in the School’s courtyard.

In the courtyard of the Royal Art school, Kralja Petra Street 4, 1922.

Royal Art school, Student generations: 1934–38. with Prof. Beta Vukanovic

First professors of the School for Applied Arts, 1939. From left: Živojin Piperski, Milan Nedeljković, M. Jevtić, Ivan Tabaković, Đorđe Krekić, Mihailo Tomić, in the chair Toma Rosandić.

A group of high school students, 1941.

High school students 1947. From left: Miloš Ćirić, Ljubodrag Janković, Jovan Grujić, Velja Cvetković, Ozren Bačić, Miloš Đurđević, sitting: Radomir Stević, Ivanka Vučković (later Ćirić), Nevenka Budisavljević, Maja Spiler, Vojislav Nedeljković

High school students 1948. godine. From left: Ružica Nenadović, Nevenka Budisavljević, Miloš Ćirić, Ljubodrag Janković, Velizar Vasa Mihić, Ivanka Vučković, Jovan Grujić, Pavle Liberovski, Vojislav Nedeljković

Professor Branko Sotra with students aboard ship »Jadran«, 1950.

Students and professors of AAA on excursion, Zagreb, 1952. Crouching: unknown, Boba Teofanović, Marija Teofanović, unknown, Olgica Mihajlović
Standing in the front row: Zora Živadinović, unknown, Jovanka Kočoba, Ružica Nenadović, Prof. Iva Vrinjanin, Prof. Pavle Vasić, prof. Radeta Stanković, Marija Kobi, unknown.
Standing in the second row: unknown, Evgenija Petrović, Anđelka Slijepčević, Nevenka Petrović, Milica Tufegdžić.
Standing in the third row: Jagoda Pantelić, unknown, unknown.

Professor Pavle Vasic with student from the Department of Costume, May 1953. From left: Zora Živadinović, Duško Stojanovski, Prof. Pavle Vasić, Saša Pavlič, Živana Gođevac, Ružica Nenadović, Jovanka Kočoba, Vladanka Đorđević, Evgenija Petrović

Tito signing the AAA exhibition catalogue in 1953.

Poster for exhibition of AAA students work, 1948, work of Dragoslav Stojanović Sip

Works by students from Costume section at the Student Work exhibition of 1955.

Student Work exhibition in 1959, Belgrade, Pavilion in Masarikova street.

A group of students with Sofija Djurdjevic, 1975: V. Andrić, S. Đurđević, M. Bogdanfi, N. Šućur, J. Dunjić, A. Zlatović, G. Zarić, R. Žikić, N. Hamer, M. Vukotić, D. Bojić, I. Jevtović, –, V. Branković, V. Virijević, Z. Jocić, V. Milunović, Jasna Dragović.

Openning of FAA Gallery in Kralja Petra street 6, 1976. From left: Prof. Miodrag Mića Bajić, Prof. Miodrag Živković and Prof. Danka Dokić Nikolić.

Awarding student log-books to first-year students, October 1998 at the atrium of the Faculty building at Kralja Petra street 4.