Florence Academy of Art

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Florence Academy of Art

From Fred Ross

Published before 2005


When we were given tours of all three academies in Florence, I found one bizarre obsession being followed only at the Florence Academy under Dan Graves and Susan Tintori.

They insisted that no electric lights were to ever be used when painting there, regardless of how much light was available coming through the rare window in their main facility.

Furthermore, they divided the space up into lots of cubicles with walls blocking out most of what light was left.

We even saw artists stumbling around with little flashlights just to keep from tripping over objects that might be in their path.

The result is that most of the paintings coming out of that school look like en grisaille studies…. works in grays or sepias.

It’s the main reason that there is so little color power and the reason that so many of the paintings have a very similar ambience from all their students and faculty.

I think natural light is usually better than artificial light, but it depends on what the subject or theme of the work is.

And especially what the commonsense reality being faced in the facility in which one has to work.

If it’s supposed to be a scene on a subway platform, or people working in a laboratory, where artificial light is normally used, then why would you not permit the use of incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lighting.

Furthermore, if the artist wants more light for any reason, it seems like an incredibly contrived, compulsive and “artificial” rule they have about artificial light, that can’t help but undermine artistic expression…. even limiting the potential effects of modeling and contrast.

I asked several times for an explanation, and never got anything close to a decent response that made sense.

Angel and Cecil had no such compulsive rule that I could detect.

Fred