Academic art is a style of painting and sculpture produced under the influence of European academies or universities. Specifically, academic art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des beaux-arts, which practiced under the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism, and the art that followed these two movements in the attempt to synthesize both of their styles, and which is best reflected by the paintings of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Suzor-Coté, Thomas Couture, and Hans Makart. In this context it is often called academism, academicism, L'art pompier, and eclecticism, and sometimes linked with historicism and syncretism. The art influenced by academies and universities in general is also called academic art. In this context as new styles are embraced by academics, the new styles come to be considered academic, thus what was at one time a rebellion against academic art becomes academic art. In the 19th century, in the revived form of the debate, the attention and the aims of the art world became to synthesize the line of Neoclassicism with the color of Romanticism. Another development during this period included adopting historical styles in order to show the era in history that the painting depicted, called historicism. This is best seen in the work of Baron Henri Leys, a later influence on James Tissot. It's also seen in the development of the Neo-Grec style. Historicism is also meant to refer to the belief and practice associated with academic art that one should incorporate and conciliate the innovations of different traditions of art from the past. The art world also grew to give increasing focus on allegory in art. Both theories of the importance of line and color asserted that through these elements an artist exerted control over the medium to create psychological effects, in which themes, emotions, and ideas can be represented. As artists attempted to synthesize these theories in practice, the attention on the artwork as an allegorical or figurative vehicle was emphasized. It was held that the representations in paintings and sculpture should evoke Platonic forms, or ideals, where behind ordinary depictions one would glimpse something abstract, some eternal truth. The trend in art was also towards greater idealism, which is contrary to realism, in that the figures depicted were made simpler and more abstract - idealized - in order to be able to represent the ideals they stood in for. This would involve both generalizing forms seen in nature, and subordinating them to the unity and theme of the artwork. Because history and mythology were considered as plays or dialectics of ideas, a fertile ground for important allegory, using themes from these subjects was considered the most serious form of painting. A hierarchy of genres, originally created in the 17th century, was valued, where history painting - classical, religious, mythological, literary, and allegorical subjects - was placed at the top, next genre painting, then portraiture, still-life, and landscape. History painting was also known as the grande genre. Towards the end of the 19th century, academic art had saturated European society. Exhibitions were held often, and the most popular exhibition was the Paris Salon and beginning in 1903, the Salon d'Automne. These salons were sensational events that attracted crowds of visitors, both native and foreign. As much a social affair as an artistic one, 50,000 people might visit on a single Sunday, and as many as 500,000 could see the exhibition during its two-month run. Thousands of pictures were displayed, hung from just below eye level all the way up to the ceiling in a manner now known as Salon style. A successful showing at the salon was a seal of approval for an artist, making his work saleable to the growing ranks of private collectors. Academic art not only held influence in Europe and the United States, but also extended its influence to non-Western countries. This was especially true for Latin American nations, which, because their revolutions were modeled on the French Revolution, sought to emulate French culture.
Extracted from Wikipedia