The École supérieure des beaux-arts de Nîmes (Nîmes School of Fine Arts) emerged, like the majority of other art schools in France, in response to the needs of the Industrial environment that existed in the beginning of the 19th Century. Mainly reserved for the children of merchants or manufacturers who were destined to work in the silk industry, learning meant to develop skills in “the mechanical arts”.
In 1823, the School and the Musée des Beaux-Arts operated under the same management. This proximity would establish the link that has been maintained with institutions of production and distribution of art right up until today.
The decisive overhaul that took place in the 1970s and 1980s following the passage in 1973 of the national art school reform has allowed the new École des beaux-arts de Nîmes to see many of its artists recognised in the contemporary art scene – Alain Clément, Claude Viallat, Vincent Bioulès, Dominique Gutherz, Daniel Buren, Toni Grand – participating in the school as teachers or managers.
In the first decade of this century, the school engaged in a progressive transformation. Adopting the ECTS system, inscribing her two diplomas in the European scheme of studies Licence/Master/Doctorate, and developing international relations with many higher education institutions around the world.
Member of the Association Nationale des Écoles d’Art (the National Association of Art Schools) ANDEA, the school maintains a singular position between the harmonisation of higher educational systems in Europe (Bologna Process) and the defence of a pedagogy of art, through art, and led by artists.
Attentive to being more and more connected to the outside world and to the heterogeneity of the artistic practices of the 21st century, the school works notably in close collaboration with the University of Nîmes and the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Montpellier, the Carré d’art – Musée, the FRAC Languedoc-Roussillon, the CRAC of Sète and the MRAC of Sérignan. It also regularly organises international partnerships with the aim that each student follow his/her own path through the multiplicity of the artistic and pedagogical propositions provided. 2016 saw the inauguration of an In-house qualifications in Production/Stage management, of a twin University curriculum with the Conservation, Management and Distribution of artworks Master of the Université Paul Valéry – Université de Montpellier III, and, the opening of a CPGE Design by the Lycée Hemingway and the Université de Nîmes, with the Esban as a partner.
The Hôtel Rivet Applied Arts Center has been producing and hosting exhibitions, talks, and art encounters that build on ESBAN teaching and research programs since 2018. It is part of the ESBAN, and was designed to be a workshop in which real-life projects could be designed and produced, so as to contribute to the professional development of students. Open to the public, its events are held in various exhibition spaces in Nîmes including the ESBAN, the Carré d’Art Contemporary Art Museum, the Musée du Vieux Nîmes, and the Chapelle des Jésuites, as well as in other locations away from Nîmes. Le Papillon, an ESBAN nomadic exhibition platform, flutters around to our different partners.