The University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA) is the oldest arts and design educational institution in the country. In 2008, the CFA celebrated its centennial.
Its history can be traced back to the early 19th century, when the country’s first art school, the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, was founded on October 8, 1823 by Damian Domingo in Binondo, Manila with the help of the Sociedades Económicas de Amigos del Pais (Economic Society of Friends of the Country). It was closed in 1834 but was reopened by the Spanish government eleven years later in 1845 with the support of Queen Isabela II.
The second Academia brought over Spanish art professors who introduced European Classical traditions in art-making. It produced artists such as Simon Flores, who won a silver medal at the Philadelphia Universal Exposition of 1876—the first Filipino of native blood to win a prize from an international exhibition—and Juan Luna, whose Spoliarium won a gold medal at the Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts in 1884. In 1891, the Academia became the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado.
In 1908, the Philippine Assembly under the American colonial administration enacted Act No. 1870, establishing the University of the Philippines. The existing School of Fine Arts became one of UP’s three original founding units, along with the Philippine General Hospital and the College of Agriculture.
For more than a century now, the UP College of Fine Arts remains steadfast in its vision to be the eminent learning institution for arts and design, imbued with a deep sense of humanity that inspires the Filipino to strive for excellence. The UPCFA commits itself to the task of nurturing career artists dedicated to the perfection of their craft and the enrichment of Philippine society.
The institution has so far produced eleven National Artists for Visual Arts, the highest state distinction given to Filipino artists: Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Carlos Francisco, Napoleon Abueva, Vicente Manansala, Cesar Legaspi, José Joya Jr., Abdulmari Imao, Benedicto Cabrera, Federico Alcuaz and Larry Alcala (2018)*.
The history of the school runs parallel not only to the history of the UP, but also to the history of the development of Philippine art and art education in the country.
Source: UPD OUR Catalogue
The UPCFA logo was designed by Prof. Rafael “Mang Paeng” Asuncion. It was the winning logo in a contest during the 1983 UP Diamond Jubilee 75th year celebration. The logo design was inspired from a candlelight and the configuration of a geometric diamond shape. The flames represent the different departments of the College of Fine Arts: Studio Arts, Visual Communication, Theory and the Graduate Studies.
Artists from the College of Fine Arts who were awarded highest honor as National Artists:
1972 Fernando Cueto Amorsolo – Painting (posthumous conferment)
1973 Guillermo Tolentino – Sculpture
1973 Carlos Modesto “Botong” Villaluz Francisco- Painting (posthumous conferment)
1976 Napoleon “Billy” Veloso Abueva – Sculpture
1981 Vicente Silva Manansala – Painting (posthumous conferment)
1990 Cesar Torrente Legaspi – Painting
2003 José Tanig Joya – Painting (posthumous conferment)
2006 Abdulmari Imao – Sculpture
2006 Benedicto Reyes Cabrera – Painting
2009 Federico Aguilar Alcuaz – Painting, Sculpture and Mixed Media (posthumous conferment)
2018 Lauro “Larry” Zarate Alcala – National Artist for Visual Arts (posthumous conferment)
1908-1916 Rafael V. Enriquez, Director
1926-1937 Fabian C. De La Rosa, Director
1938-1952 Fernando C. Amorsolo, Director
1952-1955 Guillermo E. Tolentino, Director
1955-1962 Dominador R. Castañeda, Director
1962-1965 Enrique J. Liborio Ruiz, Director
1965-1970 Aurelio T. Juguilon, Dean
1970-1978 Jose T. Joya, Dean
1978-1989 Napoleon V. Abueva, Dean
1989-1998 Nestor O. Vinluan, Dean
1998-2001 Leonilo O. Doloricon, Dean
2001- 2006 Virginia B. Dandan, Dean
2006-2012 Florentina Colayco, Dean
2012-2019 Leonardo Rosete, Dean
2019-2022 Mitzi Marie Aguilar-Reyes, Dean
2022-present Marc J. San Valentin, Dean