Silpakorn University By Curtin, Brian
Silpakorn University was officially inaugurated in Thailand in 1943 as a raising of the status of the School of Fine Arts, which had been founded in 1933. The first director of the university was the Italian sculptor Corrado Feroci (Silpa Bhirasri, 1892–1962), who led the institution until his death. He had been employed in 1924 as official sculptor to the government of Thailand under the reign of King Vajiravudh (1880–1925), or Rama VI, who had initiated a number of programs to preserve Siamese craftsmanship and respond to modern foreign influence, of which Silpakorn University was an outgrowth. Feroci remains a revered figure among Thai artists, and his portrait can be regularly seen in local artists’ studios. He had led the creation of the Democracy Monument on Bangkok’s Ratchadamnoen Road – to commemorate the 1932 coup d’état which established a constitutional democracy – and this convinced the Department of Fine Arts that an art university could be used to produce major national works. Feroci created three strands for Silpakorn University’s education: styles specific to the nation, the fashions of contemporary art, and the influence of international modern art. Training in painting and sculpture was initially provided, and then training in architecture, archeology and decorative arts was added. The principal objective of the university was to reconcile Thai traditions and Western Modernism.