Research Overview » France


In France, there is a distinction between art schools (answerable to the French Ministry of Culture and Communication) and Faculties of plastic arts at the University (answerable to the French Ministry of Education). There are also specialised and applied-art schools: some of them are answerable to French Ministry of Higher Education and the others to the private sector.

As Corinne Le Neun said in 2008, (p.156 in the publication State of research in French art schools from 2001-2008) “the  ELIA project initiated by ELIA Re-search in and through the arts in 2003 was the starting point to find a definition of the research in arts at the European level”.

Since that time, the Ministry of Culture and Communication launched the Bologna process to involve all the French art schools in the European space for higher education (LMD=358). It launched a series of meeting and conferences at the national level. The reform of higher artistic education was operated in 2 parts:
 A pedagogical part to ensure that our study organization is in conformity with
BA = licence = 3
MA = master = 5
D = Doctorate = 8
+ Recognition of the French Diplôme National Supérieur d’Expression Plastique (DNSEP) as a Master following a period of assessment by the national agency of assessment for research and higher education (Agence d’Evaluation de la Recherche et de l’Enseignement Supérieur  AERES).

An administrative process to transform the schools in Etablissement Public de Coopération Culturelle (EPCC) in order to give them more legal, pedagogical and academic autonomy.

It’s important to understand that this reform started in 2007, when the French government decided to reduce public expenditure in accordance with a so-called logic of rationalization: General Revision of Public Policies (RGPP). One of the key of this approach is to regroup

institutions to form poles and the Ministry of Culture encouragement was given for the creation of poles of excellence in artistic education, through multisite or multidisciplinary institutions. These institutions are asked to join up with the higher education poles called PRES (Poles of Research and Higher Education), usually led by Universities and governed by the Ministry of Higher Education.

The analysis completed by ANDEA (the National Association of Directors) is critical (cf. article in Art press N°22. Page 17: “...a university model is being imposed… This is the case with the application of the so-called European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) which constitutes the very basis of the creation of a single European space of higher education, the consequence of which is that the student’s working time is divided up into units that can be added up, imposing therefore a cumulative, partitioned notion of learning on artistic education. Thus, the progression of the teaching “implies continuity, homogeneity and gradation, whereas art school teaching proceeds by the discontinuous and sometimes regressive mode of experimentation. And the way schools are being encouraged to attribute theoretical teaching position to university PhD’s... The determination to link art schools to the University model is also clearly stated in the latest circular by the Direction Générale de la Création Artistique…”
If this reform sounds to be not appreciated by all the schools, in certain conditions, it could help in the improvement and strengthening of artistic education and to invent new academic frames in multidisciplinary approaches.

French Higher artistic education under the educational supervising of the Ministry of Culture and Communication is made by : 20 schools of architecture (19 000 students), 2 schools of Patrimony (1 500 students), Performing arts (music, dance, theatre, circus, puppets, street art) with 4 500 students in 45 schools and training centers, 2 schools of Cinema (250 students)
44 schools  of arts  (visual arts and design) / new EPCC
34 territorial schools/EPCC + 10 national schools
= around 10 000 students go through a program from 3 to 5 years and receive national diplomas in art, design and communication:
- DNAT National diploma of Art and Techniques ( at the end of year 3)
- DNAP National Diploma of Fine Arts ( at the end of year 3) = BACHELOR
- DNSEP Higher education National Diploma of Fine Arts (at the end of year 5) = MASTER

- From the first to the fifth, research /exploration forms an intrinsic part of the course for students without being systematically identified or taught (research methodology). Research (invention as we should perhaps call it here) allows the boldness, inventiveness, imagination and curiosity which are vital for the art school students (as with artists of every age) for the exploration of as yet untouched fields of creation.

- Post diploma degrees (3rd cycles) have been implemented since 1989 in different schools organizing research.

Research in art schools is a recent introduction. This is in contrast to architecture schools where it has been established for about thirty years. Doctorate is only delivered by 9 schools of architecture.
In the Reform, the research in the art schools is positioned as a major issue and it gives a great opportunity for the schools to play a role in artistic research area which is not recognized yet.
For the University:
Doctorate / Visual arts

Master / Visual arts

For the art schools :
Post diploma / each school delivers a certificate
(cf. list of existing post-diplomas in France)

Master = DNSEP (Diplôme National Supérieur d’Expression Plastique)
Diploma based on the student’s individual art or design project (Bac +5) + initiation to research.

- Ministry of Culture and Communication
- Call for projects from the Ministry of Culture and Communication
- European funding
- ANR on projects (National Agency for Research)
- Companies (indirect)

National Assesment
how often: Each year (each PhD student constitutes his jury and passes thesis once ready)
who does it: Each university or PRES

National Programmes
- Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence
post-diplôme Locus Sonus (1-year programme on sound creation)
research and creation ateliers ENIAROF, PLOT, SITUATIONS
- Ecole Supérieure d’art et de design d’Amiens
Le Studio mobile (research and production studio)
post-diplôme « Systèmes graphiques, typographie & langage »
- Ecole Européenne Supérieure de l’image Angoulême-Poitiers
post-diplôme Document et art contemporain (1-year programme)
- Ecole Supérieure d’art de l’agglomération d’Annecy
Unité de Recherche
3rd cycle research to prepare DSRA – Diplôme Supérieur de Recherche en Art. / Research called « la pensée sauvage » which will give birth to an exhibition and a catalogue in June 2012 / Since october 2011, seminar called “Los Angeles : des marges aux centres”.
- Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
post-diploma in art for 5 young artists
seminar « art contemporain et temps de l’histoire »
research project «  La forme des idées »
research group « DatAData » on digital issues
theorical and creation research project “stations d’arts poétiques” with Ecole Normale Supérieure.
- Ecole Supérieure d’art et de design Marseille-Méditerranée
insARTis (Interdisciplinarité et innovations technologiques pour l’art, l’architecture et l’ingénierie ) is a research team composed by ENSAM (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Marseille), ESADMM (École Supérieure d’Art et de Design Marseille-Méditerranée) and École d’ingénieurs universitaire Polytech’Marseille
"Espaces sans qualités (de l’espace du réel à l’espace des possibles)"
- Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Nancy
atelier de recherche et de création : DIY – Do it yourself // Strange behaviors // L’art de l’imposture // Cohabitation // Œuvres partagées // Marcher +
ARTEM-NANCY (Art Recherche Technologie Management) with Ecole des Mines, Institut Commercial, Ecole de Management, 3 universities (Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, Université Nancy 2, Université Henri Poincaré) and 3 local institutions (Communauté Urbaine du Grand Nancy, Région Lorraine, Conseil général de Meurthe et Moselle).
- École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Nantes Métropole
doctoral students work through cooperation projects with design firms
research projects: À propos d’une nouvelle école // Pensées Archipéliques // Double Vision // Plugin //  Abstraction // Au delà du réel
- Villa Arson de Nice + Université Paris X
DESS Art de l’exposition
- Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI) de Paris – Les Ateliers
Master spécialisé : conception en nouveaux médias
post-diplôme Création et Technologie contemporaine
post-diplôme Innovation by design
post-diplôme Nouveau Design
Research studios
- Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) de Paris
La Seine (creation and cultural activities – 2-year research programme)
- Paris : Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD) de Paris
post-diplôme All (Ateliers d’Image et d’informatique)
post-diplôme ARI (ateliers de recherche interactives)
post-diplôme Edition Presse
post-diplôme Mobilier
- Le Palais de Tokyo de Paris
Le pavillon – unité pédagogique rattachée au Palais de Tokyo.
- La Femis – Ecole Nationale Supérieure des métiers de l’image et du son de Paris
3rd cycle
- Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Rennes + Université Rennes 2
DESS Créateur de produits Artistiques et Culturels
- Ecole Supérieure d’art et design de Saint-Etienne (ESADSE)
post-diplôme Design & Recherche (1 or 2-year programme)
Master 2 Espace Public : Design, architecture, pratiques (partnership between 3 higher education institutions: ESADSE, Université Jean Monnet and ENSASE).
- Le Fresnoy Tourcoing
Studio National des arts contemporains
In 2011, thirteen education and research institutions in Paris including four major art schools and conservatoires (ENSBA, ENSAD, CNSMD, CNSAD) initiated a cooperation Paris Sciences et Lettres, creating a joint research school. PSL is currently developing the PhD programme Science Art Création Récherche (SACRe).
- IRCAM Paris
Research music lab (not an institute of higher arts education). 27 doctoral students are pursuing their PhD through a cooperation with Université Paris VI.
- Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon
cycle de perfectionnement instrumental
3LA Doctoral School in cooperation with Universités Lyon 2 and Jean Monnet – Saint-Etienne.
- Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris
musicologie et recherches en analyse, en culture musicale, en esthétique

Number of PhD Programmes
Several French universities, answerable to the Ministry of Higher Education, have programmes (Paris 1, doctorate Art et sciences de l'art; Paris 8, Doctorat Art Plastiques) that combine fine art and art history, art theory, and related fields of research.
In 2008, the Ministry of Culture and Education published its overview report État de la Récherche 2001-2008: Délégation aux Arts Plastiques.
The Ministry requires that in order to grant an MA degree, at least one of the examiners must hold a doctorate.

Report État de la recherche:

National Research Councils
Ministère de la culture et de la communication
Direction générale de la création artistique
62 rue Beaubourg
75003 Paris
Téléphone : +33 (0)1 40 15 .. .. (+ n° de poste)
Le conseil des arts plastiques pour l’enseignement supérieur la recherche et l’emploi

Conseil National Français des Arts Plastiques
Non-governmental association created to defend artist condition in the world.  

French evaluation agency for research and higher education

Author: Josyane Franc, Ecole Superieure D'Art et Design De Saint-Etienne