In America, they say it is bad luck to say “Good luck!” on the opening night of a show so we say “Break a leg!” instead.
In Italy they have the same superstition about luck in general. They think it is bad luck to say something like “Buona fortuna!”, so instead they say “In bocca al lupo!” which literally translates to in the mouth of the wolf. It colloquially means something to the effect that you are about to face a great challenge, like being in the mouth of a wolf, and you should face it head on. I like the idea of that because most Italian people I have met are, indeed, very headstrong. The response to this bizarre statement is to say “Crepi il lupo!” or merely “Crepi!” meaning literally, the wolf croaks, connoting that you will face the wolf head on, and kill it.
I have met the wolf: the entrance exam for l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze.
Let’s get one thing straight before we delve into the nitty gritty of the exam for all you future students reading out there: l’Accademia is an Italian school in Italy, meaning English is not spoken there. It is IMPERATIVE to have a solid understanding of the Italian language in order to attend. I know I read in the requirements for the CSUIP program it says one semester is required to enter, but remember this is one of the most prestigious art schools in the entire world. Topics such as painting techniques and Italian art history will be discussed at a university level, so prepare yourself.
That being said, let’s talk about the entrance exam.
The exam is broken into several parts. It is all conditional, meaning if you do not pass the first part you cannot proceed to the second, if you do not pass the second you cannot proceed to the third, etc. etc. etc. It is basically the Goblet of Fire for art students.
The first part of the exam is a dictation. I will be read an excerpt on Italian art history, a movement or technique or artist, which I have to write word-for-word with correct spelling and punctuation.
If I pass the dictation, the next day I will return to the school and be asked questions on the dictation topic.
If I pass my interview, I will return the third day for my drawing practical. This is a 6 hour exam drawing a human figure in pencil(s) to determine if I can recreate what I see with accuracy.
If I pass the drawing exam, I return the following day for another 6-hour practical in paint. This subject can be of my choosing in either gouache, watercolor, or acrylic. Oils are absolutely not allowed.
If I pass the painting exam, I will return the last day for a presentation of my best works and an interview in which I will be asked about my motivations as an artist, which subjects I like the most, why I am choosing to study it, etc. etc. etc.
Crepi il lupo!