The Florence Academy of Art was founded in 1991 by Daniel Graves to provide the highest level of instruction in classical drawing, painting and sculpture. Graves’ vision of the Academy is its potential to train a select group of highly skilled Realist painters and sculptors.
His philosophy, which underlies the Academy’s curriculum and method of instruction, demands a return to discipline in art, to canons of beauty, and to the direct study of nature and the Old Masters as the foundation for great painting and sculpture. Under his direction, the Academy is a source of stimulation and healthy competition, in which an internationally varied group of students receives training from professional painters of different nationalities, in cities renowned for their beauty and artistic past.
To read Daniel’s full thoughts on art education, click here.
Daniel Graves founded the Academy in 1991 in a small studio in the gardens of a local Florentine palace, the Corsini Family home on Via della Scala. By word of mouth, the handful of students who had come to study with Daniel grew to exceed the space available. In 1994, the Academy moved to a single 450 square-meter studio housing two disciplines, drawing and painting; the first student body consisted of 16 students taught by three instructors, Daniel Graves, John Angel and Charles Weed, with one administrative staff, Susan Tintori. When John Angel left in 1995, Simona Dolci was hired to join the faculty. Over the years that followed, a large number of students became teachers, and many of them contributed significantly to the evolution of our curriculum and teaching method, something that continues today.
Starting in 1994, the drawing and painting program was originally under one roof, in Via delle Casine, that briefly housed a sculpture course in 1995-96, taught by Cessna DeCosimo. Sculpture was taught in the back storage room, while Daniel worked in a studio near the office. In 1997, Rosemary Galli was hired as registrar.
In 1998, a second studio was rented to house the newly formed Sculpture Program in Via Luna. Robert Bodem, who had attended the Florence Academy as a student, came from the U.S. to create and run Sculpture. Simona was made Director of the Intensive Drawing Program.
In January 2002, a third studio, Via Bandiera, was added dedicated to painting. Ramiro Sanchez was made Director of Painting. A fourth studio for Sculpture Drawing was added that same year, a program now directed by Simone Moritz. Drawing, painting and sculpture were finally housed in four separate studios. In 2003, Suzy Fiddy was hired as bookkeeper (now Finance Manager).
In September 2004, the advanced painting studio in Porta Romana was inaugurated. Hunter Eddy was made co-Director of Painting until 2010. Ramiro Sanchez was made Director of Advanced Painting that year.
In January 2007, we opened our first branch outside of Florence in Mölndal, Sweden. Joakim Ericsson and Andreas Birath, were made Academic Director and Executive Director, respectively. Birgitta Holmström was hired as office manager. In 2008 the Swedish branch became accredited by the Swedish National Board of Education as a vocational school.
In January 2011, Jordan Sokol was made Director of the Intermediate Program in Via Badniera (Advanced Drawing – Beginning Painting.) That year, we created the Fourth Year Prize; the four winning students work in Daniel’s private studio, now located in Via Casati. In 2013, Daniela Astone assumed the position of Director of the Intermediate Program.
Throughout the years, the Academy’s Anatomy Program has been directed by Anthony Ackrill, Andy Ameral, Alicia Ponzio and Per Elof Nilsson Ricklund. Today, Janne Jaaskelainen is Director of Anatomy and Ecorché Sculpture.
In 2013, The Florence Academy of Art earned accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The diploma issued upon completion of the three-year course in Painting or Sculpture is a university level Certificate.
In January 2015, the Academy opened its second branch at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. Jordan Sokol is the Academic Director, and Richard Greathouse and Amaya Gurpide, Principal Instructors.
Since 1991, the Academy has grown to nine studio locations in three countries, 25 principle instructors, 10 assistant instructors and 6 administrative staff, giving instruction and service to 150 students from 35 countries. To date, 600 students have attended The Florence Academy of Art for at least one trimester; this number includes 325 students who have completed the full program of study and are considered graduates.
PRINCIPAL INSTRUCTORS, PAST AND PRESENT
Eudald de Juana
Sarah Margaret Gibson
Hege Elisabeth Haugen
Cornelia Maria Hernes
Per Elof Nilsson Ricklund
Sofia Alethe Romark
Peter Van Dyck
Sanne Van Tongeren