Free Art School is a school of Fine Arts, specialized in painting, located in Helsinki at the Cable Factory, a cultural centre. The school was founded in 1935 by Mrs Maire Gullichsen, a famous Finnish patron of the arts devoted to modern and contemporary art, as an alternative to the Academy of Fine Arts.

Finnish art in the 1930s had come to a standstill, and nationalistic values kept it isolated from the influence of European modernism. The aim of Free Art School was to introduce these influences to Finnish art. Free Art School was instrumental in bringing modernism to Finland. The school was modelled after the French “Académie libre”, nowadays it is respected for its high academic standards.

The school has chosen to remain independent, outside of the regulated and publicly controlled art education system. It is the unique representative of this form of specialized art education in Finland.


Approx. 25 new students are admitted for each academic year on the basis of an entrance examination, in the form of a one week course in May. Admission is based on competence shown during the course, meaning that the artistic capacity of the applicants is evaluated in a test, with no special emphasis on previous formal education.

After the first year the most talented, motivated and professionally mature students are invited to continue studies for three more years. After four years of studies a diploma is awarded and it entitles the student to apply for candidate membership in the Finnish Painter´s Association.


The purpose of the school is to provide a comprehensive education for painters, elevating them to the level of knowledge, experience and courage required of an independent, professional artist.

The first academic year is devoted to studies of drawing, painting and colour perception – basically on the theme of live model.

The second academic year consists of general studies and theoretical instruction in the techniques of painting. It is also a period of self-evaluation and a maturing personal approach.

During the third academic year students are encouraged to work more independently, developing their personal artistic characteristics. The students are also familiarized with the problems of art and environment or some field of current interest related to painting. Theoretical questions are dealt with as an integral part of the studies.

For the fourth academic year every student can choose a personal tutor from among the professional artists. Within the last year the students prepare their graduate exhibition.

Foreign students

There is no permanent scholarship system for foreign students. They are accepted through regular channels. Please contact the headmaster (firstname.surname at


The publishing activities of the Free Art School were initiated in 1978, when the famous Interaction of Color by Josef Albers was translated into Finnish and published in cooperation with the artist. The enthusiasm and interest created by this book encouraged the school to continue as a publisher.