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 (site of the Alumni Exhibition.) 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. Differences in artistic vision caused John to leave in 1995, and 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 private 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. Rob Bodem, who had attended the Florence Academy as a student, came from the U.S. to create and run sculpture. Simona Dolci 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 on Via Luna, and was directed by Simone Moritz. Drawing, painting and sculpture were finally housed in four separate studios. In 2003, Suzy Fiddy was hired as bookkeeper and model coordinator.
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 three winning students work in Daniel’s private studio, located in Via Casati.
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, we opened our second branch at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. Jordan Sokol became the Academic Director, and Richard Greathouse and Amaya Gurpide, Principal Instructors.
In May 2015, the Academy published a 300-page volume to celebrate its 25th anniversary: The Florence Academy of Art: the First 25 Years, 1991-2016. The book features the work of its alumni, teachers and founder, Daniel Graves.
In June 2015, the Academy purchased a 19th century customs house in Florence in which it would unite all of its studio locations. Renovation was completed in October 2016 in time to inaugurate the 2016-2017 academic year. The 35,000 square foot campus unites drawing, painting and sculpture students for the first time since 1995 under one roof, providing students 30 northerly lit studios, a library, gallery, bookshop, the FAA Café, 10 private studios for instructors, and three apartments for visiting artists.
In May 2016, The Florence Academy of Art was approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) to offer a Masters in Fine Art in Painting. The MFA program is scheduled to begin in the next five years.
Since 1991, the Academy developed several important year-long programs: Anatomy, and Ecorché Sculpture, Art History, and Composition, as well as optional part-time courses including evening sculpture class for painters, Composition Course and Landscape painting conducted during Spring term.
PRINCIPAL INSTRUCTORS, PAST AND PRESENT
Ola Alaa El-Din Aly
Rafael Belfort de Moraes Guerra
Eudald De Juana
Sarah Margaret Gibson
Hege Elisabeth Haugen
Cornelia Maria Hernes
Per Elof Nilsson Ricklund
Per Olav Olsen
Sofia Alethe Romark
Peter Van Dyck
Sanne Van Tongeren