The Mission Statement was written in 1995, and has changed only slightly over the years. We may not refer to it often, but it remains the guiding principal of our school, and underlies our philosophy, curriculum and teaching, and all of our decision-making:
To provide the highest level of instruction in classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture for students wishing to pursue careers as professional artists in the Realist tradition.
The Florence Academy of Art is a small and dynamic center dedicated to the training of young artists through the combination of intense observation with advanced craft skills. The curriculum derives from the classical-realist tradition rooted in the 19th century (most particularly exemplified by the French Academies in the teaching of master painters like Gérôme, Bonnat and Carlos Duran) but also addresses the creative and professional position of the artist in a contemporary environment.
It is the view of this Academy that throughout the 20th century prominent movements of art have steadily drawn attention (and teaching) away from close observation of the material world and the acquisition of strong technical skills, to a position where cohesive artistic thought is inexorably fragmented by the urge towards greater individual expression.
The Academy therefore provides students with the opportunity to explore distinctive aspects of their chosen subject through the development of considerable powers of draftsmanship, direct study of works of the Old Masters and a deep, practical understanding of the materials and methods of the artist. By this means, and through the resulting identification of clear artistic objectives, students acquire creative self-confidence, visual understanding and subtle and precise powers of description.
Study at the Academy centers upon the importance of drawing (particularly drawing from the human figure) as a means to gaining skill in painting or sculpture. Through intense observation students acquire a visual literacy that enables them to interpret humanist values in their work, and, ultimately, seek to create a work of universal relevance.
The program, like that of the French Academies, is based upon systematic progression through the classical disciplines, interpreting the basic elements of composition, form, color harmony and expression. Advancement to each level of study is dependent upon successful completion of the previous level. In this way, the program is carefully matched to each individual and not imposed in a ‘study group’ context.
In summary, the Academy aims to train artists to:
- draw to a very high standard
- execute works in painting or sculpture to high levels of professional craftsmanship
- acquire a deep understanding of the works and methods of the Old Masters
- acquire a sound awareness of commercial practices in Fine Art