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Artistic and Cultural Orientation

Pre-study program for migrants interested in studying the arts

The single-semester program Artistic and Cultural Orientation (ACO) of the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (University of Fine Arts, HFBK) is for asylum seekers and refugees who are interested in artistic and/or design issues related to film, photography/graphic art, design, and painting/sculpture who may later wish to apply to study fine arts.

Up to 20 program participants engage with traditions of thought in Western art, culture, and society in a theory seminar, and try out forms of working in art practiced in European art universities with HFBK alumni in practical artistic workshops.

Presentations from the different subject areas provide an insight into the various methodical and medial approaches at the HFBK. Subject-specific advice reveals individual educational biographies in more detail.

The program is supplemented by a mentor system. In other words, enrolled HFBK art students will accompany program participants throughout the whole semester to help them orient themselves within the University, give them an idea of the day-to-day life of students, answer practical questions about study, and help them to get to know the art scene.

Excursions and guided tours with a focus on contemporary art life in Hamburg help participants to better understand the environment and culture. At the end of the single semester program, a documentation of having completed the course will be provided (exhibition and/or publication), as public evidence of the experience gained from the exchange.

The program will be taught primarily in German. German as a foreign language courses is therefore taught as part of the program. A B2 and C1 level course will run concurrently with the semester. If they wish, participants may also attend higher-level courses.

Also part of the program is the series of lectures Cross-Cultural Challenges delivered by artists, theoreticians and curators who represent a non-European perspective, aimed at all University members and intended to promote discourse on cultural transfer.

Important information

Please note that the program is halted for the time being.


Program coordinator

Semestereröffnung und Hiscox-Preisverleihung 2020

We cordially invite you to the opening of the academic year 2020/21 as well as to the presentation of the Hiscox Art Prize on November 4 from 6 p.m. via livestream - offline with enough distance and yet together online.

Art defies Corona: Graduate Show 2020

With a two-month delay, the Graduate Show took place this year on the 19 and 20 September. More than 140 students showed their artistic graduation projects, from painting to sound installation.

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

New articles at is the social network of the HFBK. It opens a digital forum for exchange and discussion in which students, teachers, guest authors, art critics and the interested public provide a wide range of content and perspectives.

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?

Annual Exhibition 2020 at the HFBK

The HFBK’s traditional annual exhibition („Jahresausstellung“) opens in February every year. For three days the students – from first-years to post-graduates – present a broad spectrum of their current work and projects from all the different departments. All classrooms, studios and halls in the building are used. Interested visitors are cordially invited to gain an impression of the art currently being created at the HFBK.