Edinburgh was once an art desert at festival time. Yes, there were alternative comedians hiding under every manhole cover, but if you were a lover of the visual arts there was little reason to go. Until 2004, when the Edinburgh Art Festival was founded, and everything got better.
Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times

2004 – Throughout August

In 2004, the youngest of Edinburgh’s summer festivals, the Art Festival, was formed to create a platform to showcase the world-class visual art offering from the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces.

Initially produced as an insert in Scotland on Sunday, the Edinburgh Art Festival Guide promoted 23 art spaces, galleries and museums across the city as well as articles introducing the festival, its ethos and features exploring the exhibitions making up its inaugural year.

“This is an exciting new opportunity for Scotland and I am delighted at the level of interest shown in the Edinburgh Art Festival, both from the partners already involved and by the wider arts community. It’s a really positive start from which to build our ambitions. This first year will allow all of us involved to get a real sense of the possibilities and help us shape a Festival which demonstrates the international quality of Scotland’s talent.” Graham Berry, Scottish Arts Council.

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2005 – Throughout August

Our second festival edition, with the introduction of a festival map, brought together exhibitions and events at 34 venues across Edinburgh, from the National Galleries of Scotland to artist-led spaces such as Embassy. Alongside this programme were off-site and special projects including Cai Guo-Qiang’s Black Rainbow, Explosion Project for Edinburgh, commissioned by the Fruitmarket Gallery to launch the festival with a black rainbow explosion over Edinburgh Castle.

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Cai Guo-Qiang’s Black Rainbow, Explosion Project

27 July – 3 September

Our third festival edition included exhibitions in 29 museums, galleries and artist run spaces throughout the city. The festival, and its new printed guide, highlighted the quality and diversity of work being exhibited in Edinburgh, from works of the Great Masters such as Canaletto and Van Gogh to contemporary shows, artist talks and workshops.

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26 July – 2 September

Our fourth festival edition ran from 2007 and included over 30 exhibitions in museums, galleries and artist-run spaces throughout Edinburgh. The festival had a wide range of art on show including the Dean Gallery’s Picasso on Paper and the National Museum of Scotland’s Picasso Fired with Passion, Edinburgh Printmakers’ exhibition of work by William Kentridge and The Fruitmarket Gallery’s Alex Hartley show. There was also an extensive series of special events based at our Information Station at Stills Gallery and a programme of artist talks and workshops across our partner galleries.

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31 July – 31 August

Our fifth festival edition included a choice of more than 130 exhibitions and events ranging from Impressionism & Scotland, to the imaginary worlds of international artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller and 20 years of Tracey Emin.

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5 August – 4 September

Our sixth festival edition included major exhibitions in 50 venues, both permanent and temporary, including 11 that were new to the festival. From the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to Granton Lighthouse and New Media Scotland’s Inspace, the city’s visual art community came together to present the best, the new, the emerging and the intriguing.

Jupiter Artland launched their new permanent collection of international sculpture including Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Cornelia Parker.

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Edinburgh Art Festival 2009 – Launch

29 July – 5 September

Our seventh festival edition included major exhibitions in 54 museums, galleries and artist-run spaces throughout Edinburgh’s historic city centre and beyond. Newly commissioned work included Turner Prize winner Richard Wright’s The Stairwell Project at Modern Two (formerly the Dean Gallery) and Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth’s multi channelled video work in the astronomical observatory on Calton Hill.

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Edinburgh Art Festival 2010 – Programme Announcement

Richard Wright, The Stairwell Project