The Department of Fine Arts was founded in 1957. Initially known as Fine Arts Specialized Training Programme, it began as a two-year curriculum of study launched at New Asia College at Farm Road. In 1959 it was developed into a four-year undergraduate programme. When The Chinese University of Hong Kong was established in 1963, New Asia College was one of the University’s constituent colleges. The Department of Fine Arts became the first tertiary institute to offer courses on studio practice and history of visual arts in Hong Kong. Since its inception, the Department has promoted the study of Chinese art and culture and the exchange of Chinese and Western art. In its early years, the Department aimed to nurture artistic talents with rich general knowledge by offering a programme with art theory, studio practice, and training of literature, history and philosophy. On the endeavour of various chairs of the Department and Mr. Ch’ien Mu, the principal of New Asia College, the Department of Fine Arts succeeded in recruiting a teaching team of renowned artists, including Ting Yen-yung, Zhang Hanbing, Chow Su-sing and others, and thus laid down the solid foundation of its academic tradition. Since then, under the leadership of successive chairs, the Department has developed a balanced and comprehensive undergraduate programme with art history and studio practice, and established postgraduate programmes including M. Phil. and Ph.D. programmes in Chinese Art, M.F.A programme and part-time M.A. programme in Fine Arts. All these have made the Department a strategic base for training art professionals in Hong Kong.
In 1957, New Asia College launched a two-year curriculum of study known as Fine Arts Specialized Training Programme which consisted of two divisions, namely Chinese Painting and Western Painting.
In 1959, New Asia College established the Fine Arts Department and developed a four-year undergraduate programme.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong was established in 1963. New Asia College was one of the University’s constituent colleges.
In 1972, Mr. LIU Kuo-song was appointed as the Chair of the Fine Arts Department.
The Department was moved to the current campus of The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shatin in 1973.
In 1974, the Department developed a balanced and comprehensive programme with art history and studio practice, by combining its original Chinese and Western painting divisions into Studio Art alongside the newly established component of Art History.
In 1975, Dr. KAO Mayching was appointed as the Chair of the Department.
In 1977, Mr. James WATT was appointed as the Chair of the Department.
Dr. KAO Mayching was appointed as the Chair of the Department again in 1981. With her effort, the Department set up its first postgraduate programme, M. Phil. in History of Chinese Art. Dr. JAO Tsung-I, erudite master of Chinese studies, was invited in the following year to be Honorary Professor and participated in teaching postgraduate students.
In 1984, Mr. CHEUNG Yee was appointed as the Chair of the Department.
In 1992, Mr. LEE Yun Woon was appointed as the Chair of the Department. A new postgraduate programme, Ph.D. in History of Chinese art, was established.
A M.F.A. programme covering a wide range of creative media was introduced in 1993. The Department was the first tertiary institute to offer postgraduate programme in creative art in Hong Kong.
In 2001, Prof. Jenny SO was appointed as the Chair of the Department. Under her leadership, new courses in computer and digital art, modern and postmodern art theory, for examples, were added to the curriculum. The Department also collaborated with art institutes within and outside the territory to provide students with more learning opportunities outside classroom, such as museum internship, summer training and exchange programme.
Since 2003, the Department has published the Hong Kong Visual Arts Yearbook with the sponsorship from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council every year. The Yearbook is a comprehensive annalistic toolbook that collects data of all forms of visual arts in Hong Kong while offering analyses on key issues by academic experts.
In 2008, Prof. Harold MOK was appointed as the Chair of the Department.
In 2009, the Department further introduced a part-time M.A. programme in Fine Arts with the aim of providing a platform for the development of individual art practices. With the components in art history, culture theory and studio, the programme aims to help students to reconfigure their art projects and to equip them with the critical tools and practical skills necessary for an advanced professional practice.
In 2017, Prof. Frank VIGNERON was appointed as the Chair of the Department.