The roots of the Kunsthochschule Kassel (KhK) reach back to the eighteenth century. On October 18, 1777, “L'Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture de Cassel” was opened to great fanfare by Friedrich ll, Landgrave of Hessen-Cassel. Over the course of its more than 238-year history, the Kunsthochschule has gone through many transformations, reacting to the changing times in its course offerings, and shaping the education at other art academies with new pedagogical approaches. Then as now, important artists taught here: Johann Heinrich Tischbein the Elder from the famous Tischbein painter family or—centuries later—Arnold Bode, the founder of documenta.
The structure of the KhK today can be traced back to the merger of the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste under the direction of Arnold Bode and the Werkkunstschule under the direction of Jupp Ernst in the 1970s to become the HBK. On August 2, 1971, the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst Kassel was integrated into the Gesamthochschule Kassel, and the areas of art, product design, architecture, and visual communication became their own functional units as departments. In 1997 the Hessian Ministry of Art and Sciences, along with the Gesamthochschule Kassel, decided to combine the departments mentioned above, with the exception of architecture, with the programs Art History and Aesthetics and Art Education into the Kunsthochschule Kassel in in its current form.
In the winter semester of 2008 the Kunsthochschule Kassel gradually converted the program in art history to the international standards of bachelor’s and master’s programs. Students of Art Education take the first state examination after the standard period of study. The programs of Visual Arts and Visual Communication decided to maintain the proven concept of an artistic degree, and the program Product Design continues to offer a diploma degree.