American painter Daniel Graves was born in Rochester, New York. Graves graduated from the Maryland Art Institute in 1972 where he studied with Joseph Shepard and Frank Russell. He continued his studies at the Villa Schifanoia Graduate School of Fine Art in Florence, Italy, with Richard Serrin. Following a course of training with Richard Lack in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he taught at the Atelier Lack Studio of Fine Art. In the late 1970s, Graves returned to Florence and undertook individual study with Nerina Simi, who maintained a classical nineteenth-century studio. Ms. Simi was the daughter of the Florentine painter Filadelfo Simi, who had studied with Jean-Leon Gerome, the head of the French Academy in Paris in the 1870s.
With such a rich background of training, Graves has created a style of oil painting that blends the Florentine tradition of Simi and the master classical realist Piero Annigoni with the draftsmanship of the French artist Charles Bargue's Cours des Dessins and Academie Julien.Daniel Graves joined Charles Cecil to found Studio Cecil-Graves in Florence, which for nearly a decade trained many practitioners of classical realism. Graves then established The Florence Academy of Art in 1991.The Florence Academy of Art has been in the forefront of classical realist art education for nearly twenty years.The Academy recently opened a second school in Molndal, Gothenberg, Sweden. In “Tradition in the 21st Century", an essay published in the exhibition catalogue Realism Revisited: The Florence Academy of Art (2003), Graves described his training in Old Masters techniques and heralded the classical realist renaissance in aesthetics and art education. That exhibition, “Realism Revisited”, traveled in Europe and the United States. Practitioners, connoisseurs and scholars of modern representational art recognize “Realism Revisited” and its accompanying catalogue as defining moments in the appreciation of classical realist art. The Academy's biannual alumni exhibition showcases the works of current advanced students and instructors and recent graduates of both of the Florence and Molndal schools. In April 2008 Daniel Graves and The Florence Academy of Art received the Excellence in Art Education Award from the Portrait Society of America.When he is not teaching, Graves is an active painter of portraits and still lifes in his studio in Florence. He is currently working on a multi figured narrative painting, and pursues landscape painting during his extensive travels. His work is in both public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad.
Daniel Graves, founder and director of The Florence Academy of Art, exemplifies the Academy's commitment to the academic tradition and to the importance of receiving instruction from teachers who are also active painters in their own right. He graduated Cum Laude from the Maryland Art Institute in 1972, where he studied anatomy and painting with Joseph Sheppard, then pursued etching and history painting with Richard Serrin at the Villa Schifanoia Graduate School of Fine Art in Florence. After studying with Richard Lack at the Atelier Lack in Minnesota, where he also taught etching, he returned to Florence. It was here that Graves came under the influence of Pietro Annigoni, who praised the truly unusual candor of Graves' work, calling him one of the most gifted foreign painters in Florence.
He was naturally drawn to Florence, where both art and craft have flourished for centuries. It is here that the position of man was at the center of thought, that the human body was the focus of art, and that humanist ideals are preserved in museums and churches. While studying in Florence, he soon learned that what is passed on from teacher to student is a language evolved through the centuries, something impossible to transmit except by visual example. After realizing that frustration was common among students unable to find solid training, Graves began teaching in Florence in 1984. The Florence Academy of Art was formed in 1991 on the principle that through intense observation of nature and study of the Old Masters, and the use of traditional techniques, students will develop considerable powers of draftsmanship. Graves aims for the highest level of instruction at the Academy to ensure that his students acquire the skills needed to develop a visual language, and, ultimately, create a work of universal relevance.
Graves has had numerous successful solo and group shows in Europe and the United States, and his portraits, interiors, still lifes, and etchings are part of private and public collections worldwide.
The Florence Academy of Art è stata fondata nel 1991 da Daniel Graves, americano, in un piccolo studio nei giardini della famiglia Corsini. (Graves ha studiato con la pittrice fiorentina Nerina Simi e conosceva Pietro Annigoni.) Da sempre grande sostenitrice delle arti, Donna Giorgiana ha incoraggiato il lavoro del giovane Graves sin dai primi anni '80.
Adesso la scuola ha sei sedi a Firenze, quasi 100 iscritti provenienti da 25 paesi diversi per studiare le tecniche tradizionali, dal carboncino all'olio per gli studenti di pittura o l'argilla al bronzo per gli scultori. Tutti quanti passano un minimo di tre anni alla scuola, con un possibile quarto anno di specializzazione.