Founded by American painter Daniel Graves in 1991, The Florence Academy of Art started out as a one-man atelier and now boasts locations not only in Florence, Italy but also in Mölndal, Sweden and Jersey City, USA.* This forward-looking school still offers Grave’s original atelier approach to learning skills necessary to becoming a professional painter or sculptor. It uses the best of the past — Ancient Greece, Italian Renaissance, 19th century French academia — to teach students from all over the world techniques that produced some of the most important artists in Western-civilization’s history while at the same time opening their imaginations to make contemporary art relevant to our own time and place.
Graves is the spirit that gave birth and continues to breathe palpably throughout FAA. His philosophy, which underlies the Academy’s curricula and method of instruction, demands a return to discipline in art, to canons of beauty, and to the direct study of nature and Old Masters as the foundation for great painting and sculpture. He aims for the highest level of instruction at the Academy to ensure that students acquire the skills needed to develop a visual language, and, ultimately, create a work of universal significance.
After a few years teaching solo in a small studio housed in the gardens of the Corsini family home, he realized that to make his vision take influential shape and grow he needed someone to add a practical and logistical perspective. He found that someone in the indefatigable Susan Tintori, a dedicated educator who shared his dream for a great art school based on the highest standards; she has worked side by side with him since 1994 and now serves as Executive Director over an immense operation. They started with two instructors in addition to Daniel and 16 students. Today the school has eight studio locations in the three countries mentioned above, 33 full time faculty instructors, 9 student assistant instructors, and 6 administrative staff, offering instruction and service to 153 full time students from 39 countries. In 2015, after many years of renting various studio spaces in Florence and thanks to FAA’s Board of Trustees, a huge, magnificently appointed campus was purchased to provide a single facility to house all students and programs in that art-famed city.
The Swedish school was inaugurated in 2007 by two FAA alumni artists, and the American school opened in 2015. New Jersey provided the perfect location for the latter branch because of proximity to NYC with its many museums-- students do master copies at The Metropolitan Museum of Art—and all manner of cultural activities.
The following message to potential students is from FAA’s website and says it all:
Students who apply to The Florence Academy of Art seek the language of Rembrandt, Velasquez, Titian, and the tools to convey their ideas with confidence through the oil or clay mediums. A common visual aesthetic draws them to the classical world (and its renaissance in Florence) to build an artistic vocabulary where beauty and humanity are intrinsic to art. To accomplish this, our methodology combines intense observation with advanced craft skills. Our curriculum comes mostly from the 19th century French academies and the teachings of master painters like Gèrôme, Bonnat and Carlos Duran. It centers on drawing (particularly drawing from the human figure), as a means to gaining skill in painting or sculpture. We also address the creative and professional position of the artist in today's world. When you walk in the door of the Florence Academy, you are assigned a north light studio space and settle into a rhythm of working that will remain constant throughout your three years of study. You spend half the day working from the figure, and half of the day in your studio, on specific exercises. As each requisite skill is acquired, a new more difficult task is assigned. By working only from life you learn to view the subject before you with accuracy, to understand the complexities of each anatomical detail, in order to draw, paint or sculpt it skillfully. Eventually, you will explore gesture, psychology, and composition, while strengthening your individual voice. You will begin to ask the questions you will face as an emerging artist: what do I want to paint? Why? What emotion do I want to convey and how? What areas of technical competence must I strengthen so as to not be held back in the articulation of my vision? Answers often come from the Uffizi, the Met, or other great museums. By exposing you to the masterpieces of humanist culture, we intend to help you develop more than technique, but the skill to transpose what is meaningful to you into your art.
Along with a demanding teaching schedule, Daniel Graves continues to paint, and his work is represented by galleries world-wide. Susan runs the Florence school and oversees the Swedish and American branches. Their dreams-come-true-today will live on in students who will join the art culture as professionals with their own creations and/or teaching others for generations into the future.
Florence: The city of Michelangelo, Bruneschelli, Botticelli, and Da Vinci. Florence: the Italian city emblematic of the high Renaissance thrives alive and well with contemporary art recommencement of its timeless tradition.
The legacy lives at The Florence Academy of Art.
* To learn more about FAA and its branches: https://www.florenceacademyofart.com/
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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