Institute of Theory

The Institute of Theory engages with teaching and research in the areas of philosophy, art history, media theory, image and cultural studies, history and theory of film and photography as well as books and writing. The institute offers the advanced master’s course “Cultures of the Curatorial”.


The theory-centred degree course at HGB maintains a lively exchange with those who teach fine art. It also allows the students to question the purpose of their own artistic outpourings. At the same time, it aims to familiarise students with art-related knowledge subdivided into methodical, historical, technical and philosophical aspects. And finally, the theory-centred course enables students to place art in its social context and qualifies them to express themselves on the subject matter. As an integral part of the programme, the theory-centred courses accompany the artistic training of the diploma students. A greater emphasis is placed on language, performance and communication skills with reference to the students’ own artistry than on conveying abstract knowledge. The course does not exhaust itself in ploughing through a canon of images and texts. Instead, it offers an experimental forum for collective reflection.

The independent profile of the focal points of research at the Institute of Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts generates broad international demand and a lively exchange with thematically related university institutions in Leipzig, in German-speaking countries and further afield.

Theoretical dissertation

Alongside the lectures the academic support at the institute is expressed particularly in the theoretical dissertation, which each student must submit in addition to the practical artistic diploma examination. The selected topics document the integrative potential of the institute, as the artistic practice and theory undergo an intensive relationship of exchange. Although both of these areas at the Academy of Fine Arts view themselves as autonomous, there are diverse forms of cooperation in the creative-productive and theoretical-academic teaching. Synergies between the teachers and students of the different specialist fields include the activities of the Institute of Book Art and the academy gallery.


Through the opportunity to gain a PhD the Institute of Theory offers a path towards an academic qualification for students who have already completed their study (“Diplom” degree or Master) at the points of interaction between art, philosophy and cultural studies as well as graduates from the Academy of Fine Arts. In particular training is offered to prospective teachers in the theoretical fields of art academies. It is an academic qualification at university level, not a “practice-based PhD” or related forms.

Interested parties should contact the teachers at the Institute directly.

Promotionsordnung (Fassung vom 08.08.2019) (DE)
Doctoral Regulations (Effective from 08/08/19) (EN)