Tbilisi Academy of Arts
The Apollon Kutateladze Tbilisi State Academy of Arts is located in one of the city’s most significant historic buildings on Griboyedovi Street (formerly Komandant Street)–an eclectic complex combining elements of Baroque, Classical, and Persian revival. It was built on the site of a mid-19th century church designed by Grigol Ivanov. In the early 20th century, a shareholder in the block of buildings named Nino Qobulashvili commissioned architect Simon Kldiashvili to design a reconstruction. The building was restored in the early 1970s by art academy staff and students under the direction of George Khalatov.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the building, however, is its interior–art historian Vakhtang Beridze attributes the lavish interior designs to Iranian master artists and craftsmen working in Tbilisi. The chambers are abundantly adorned with an entire repertoire of Persian motifs and architectural elements: medallions, calligraphy , stucco ornaments, muqarnas, musharabi stained glass, niches, and murals based on the traditions of Persian miniatures.
In 1869-1886, the local vice-regent recorded the building’s use as a clubhouse for the “Тифлииский кружок” (“Tiflis Coterie”), and featured a hotel, library, theatre, and halls for dance and billiards. In the early 20th century, an art academy was established–the first public art school in the Caucasus.
Up until the height of the repressions in 1937, the building housed the art studio of academy professor Henry Hrinevski, the ballet studio of his spouse Maria Perin, the studio of professor Gigo Gabashvili, and the living apartments of Qobulashvili family. Later, the entire building was transferred to the ownership of the art academy, which still functions today as Georgia’s premier institution for higher education in the arts.
To learn more about the history of the art academy and its historic structures, visit the TSA Academy Aid site
, established to garner support for a much-needed restoration that began in 2012.
members of the building’s first tenants, the avant-garde “Tiflis Coterie”
second floor lounge
2nd floor lounge
2nd floor interior featuring intricate Persian-inspired details
second floor interior
Exterior (photo by Dimitri Ermakov)
Early art academy faculty
Stair hall with mural
Faculty around the period of Stalinist repressions
interior ornament detail
Anatomical sculpture class
Anatomical drawing class (with model, top center!)
Exterior facade today
2nd floor interior today
Interior murals today
musharabi (latticework stained glass) detail
view of the courtyard before restoration work
the Persian room today, filled with old skeletons used for anatomical drawing classes
the Iran room filled with art-related debris
damn Anthropologie’s got nothing on this