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Free Workshops

Education as such is no substitute for Art or Culture; neither can it become Art.
Besides, unless the term is employed to signify some other notion, education
can’t be a one-time action — it implies a process, and a long and tricky one.

Vera Dazhina, founder and professor
of the School of Contemporary Art Free Workshops


The School of Contemporary Art Free Workshops has been initiating new educational processes within the Russian artistic community for 20 years. It was founded in 1992 by Vera Dazhina, Valery Turchin, Alexander Ponomarev, Leonty Zybailov and Vladimir Kuprianov and was meant as an alternative to the traditional system of academic art education. In 1995 the new art school was housed in the building of the secondary school of distant education at Basmannaya; in 1996 it moved to the legendary Centre of Contemporary Art at Yakimanka. For the first 7 years of its existence, the Free Workshops School was deeply involved in different educational and exhibition activities.

In 2000, the School of Contemporary Art Free Workshops became an integral part of the educational programme of the newly found Moscow Museum of Modern Art, turning into an educational centre for young people. Thus, the Museum, which has been systematically working with young people from its very first days, can be ranked among the leading Russian art institutions in this process.

The School’s educational and art programmes are based on new methods and media. The seminars are worked out to present a systematic review of new trends in art and introduce the methods of social science, particularly sociology and philosophy, into the system of art education.

The Free Workshops offer an innovative curriculum of practical workshops, embracing a wide range of contemporary art practices (interdisciplinary art forms, photography as an art media, new electronic and visual media, spatial art forms, contemporary easel painting et al.). Throughout its existence, the School has sought to keep abreast of the times and to respond to new trends in both art and education. The current academic programme includes several options:

The Basic Course

The Basic Course, which embraces the entity of theoretical courses and studio seminars designed to develop general competence in contemporary art and enhance professional skills in the particular field of study (painting, photography, curating contemporary art). The basic course curriculum is not only an introduction into the history, theory and practice of contemporary art but also the way to most efficiently fill the gap between the traditional academic art education and contemporary art practices.

! The admission is free. You can submit your application for an annual Basic Course during August and September.

The admission is based on the results of an interview and the examination by the teaching staff of the applicants’ creative works (to get admission into the Painting Workshop and the Photography Workshop).

To subscribe for the interview applicants must submit the on-line application form.

Special programmes

This educational module is intended as a comprehensive and intensive specialization course in a single contemporary art practice. The School’s Special Programmes are original, innovative, experimental courses. The Laboratory of Media Performance has already been launched; another specialised course, the School of Curators, the original educational project by Daria Pyrkina, has been in the making and now is ready to start.

The School’s Special Programmes are provided at a cost, which depends on a course the applicant wants to subscribe for. The students and auditors of others of the School’s programmes can get a discount.

Open Programmes

The Open Programmes of the School include several series of lectures and workshops by experts in different areas of contemporary art practice. This module is intended for general public. The events of the Open Programmes could interest both specialists and complete newcomers to this field.

Exhibition Activity

Exhibition activity, including both coordination and curatorial activity, is another of the School’s priorities. The large-scale annual exhibition of young art the Workshop features works by the School’s leavers, alumni and other young artists from different countries and regions of the world. Anyone can take part, provided that they have been selected by the curatorial jury. To apply for participation you must fill the online application form on the website of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

For 6 years by now, the School director Daria Kamyshnikova has been curating the exhibition programme Debut. The programme presents solo shows of young artists. These art projects have been currently hosted at the Konenkov Memorial Studio Museum. The Debut Programme has featured several dozens solo shows by School students and other beginning artists and curators.

Apart from the educational programmes and exhibitions, the Free Workshops art programmes include collective art actions, seminars and lectures by different experts in the field, round tables with the participation of leading contemporary artists, art critics and experts, all those who take an active part in the present-day art process.