New York Academy of Art

Coordinates: 40°43′06″N 74°00′22″W / 40.7184°N 74.0060°W / 40.7184; -74.0060
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New York Academy of Art
Street entrance of New York Academy of Art.jpg
Other name
Graduate School of Figurative Art
TypePrivate art school
PresidentDavid Kratz
ProvostPeter Drake
111 Franklin Street
, , ,
United States

40°43′06″N 74°00′22″W / 40.7184°N 74.0060°W / 40.7184; -74.0060

The New York Academy of Art is a private art school in Tribeca, New York City. The academy offers a Master of Fine Arts degree with a focus on technical training and critical discourse as well as a Post-baccalaureate Certificate of Fine Art.[2][3] The school annually hosts two public events: the TriBeCa Ball and the fund-raising auction Take Home a Nude, both known to attract high profile guests.[4][5][6]


Early years[edit]

In the late 1970s, a group of realist New York artists including Jack Beal, Alfred Leslie, Rafael Soyer, and Milet Andrejevic, recognized a need for arts instruction grounded in the teaching of traditional skills.[7] The early school, then known as the New York Drawing Association, began instruction in 1980 in a rented basement space at the Middle Collegiate Church on the Lower East Side,[7] with New York businessman and art collector Stuart Pivar providing key financial support.[7][4]

According to sculptor Barney Hodes, the early school was created through a merger in 1982 of two schools started in 1979: the New Brooklyn School of Life Drawing, Painting and Sculpture (formed by Hodes and Francis Cunningham) and the New York Drawing Association (created by Stuart Pivar).[8]

In a recently published account of early days of the school, Pivar describes his role as its primary founder, inspired by a suggestion to start such a school by his close friend Andy Warhol. Pivar assembled the early faculty and advisory committees which included Beal, Leslie, Soyer, Andrejevic, as well as Frank Mason and Nelson Shanks, and secured the lease at the Middle Collegiate Church in 1980.[9]

Pivar disputes Hodes's account that the school was a result of a merger between the New York Drawing Association and the New Brooklyn School. Pivar acknowledges that in 1983 Hodes and Cunningham were brought in as senior faculty, and that several trustees of the New Brooklyn School were added to the academy's board, but that the union was acrimonious and that Hodes, Cunningham, and former New Brooklyn School board members Barbara Stanton and James Cox had left the school by 1985.[9]

In 1984, the New York Academy of Art (NYAA) relocated to Lafayette Street in the East Village and expanded its administration, faculty, and curriculum, with additional support from Pivar.[7] By 1986, the New York Times reported that the NYAA had grown to serve 40 full-time students, all on scholarship, along with 150 part-time students enrolled in fee-based night classes.[7] The arts curricula centered on building the classical skills of realism including training in perspective drawing and working from life models to sculpt the human form.[7]

Later accounts of the formation of the academy list pop artist Andy Warhol as one of its key founders and funders, along with Pivar.[10][11] After Warhol died in 1987, he left a bequest to the academy, allowing it to purchase its Franklin Street headquarters in Tribeca.[5] Warhol was reportedly a supporter of artists "learning all of the tools of their trade", and the Warhol Foundation had given the academy more than $1 million (as of 2004).[4]

Franklin Street building[edit]

In 1990, the NYAA began operating out of the Franklin Street building, a five-story 42,000 square foot landmark building[12] originally designed by Benjamin Warner in 1861.[13] Following a 2001 fire that damaged 50 percent of the interior space, the building was renovated by TRA Studio.[12][14] The same firm continued to renovate and improve the school starting in 2010 (through at least 2020) and included the restoration of the facade in collaboration with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.[13]


David Kratz was appointed president of the school in 2009.[11][2] Prior to his leadership appointment at NYAA, Kratz had worked in public relations for two decades before he earned a graduate degree in painting from the academy in 2008.[15]

The school's provost is Peter Drake, who has also been the academic dean of students since 2010.[2] Drake came to the NYAA in 2010, after working for the Parsons School of Design.[2]


The school is also known for several major disputes among administrators and the ouster of more than one financial controller accused of embezzling funds.[1][4]

New York magazine reported that Stuart Pivar was maneuvered off the school's board in 1994 by board chairman Russell Colgate Wilkinson and board member Dennis Smith. A 1994 report by education consultant Robert Montgomery accused the school of failing to uphold the basic requirements of an educational institution. Montgomery noted that the financial and educational committees were in violation of the school's bylaws, as was Smith for serving well beyond the four year term limit for chairman.[1]

Pivar sued the academy for losing several of his artworks.[1] The dispute with Pivar escalated and he sued the college in 1997 asking $50 million for "emotional and mental distress". The claims were later dismissed.[16]

In the early 2000s, Pivar helped to expose an embezzling con-artist working within the academy.[4]

Epstein ties[edit]

Human-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was a board member from 1987 to 1994.[17] Academy alumni Maria Farmer criticized Eileen Guggenheim for pressuring her in 1995 to undersell her artwork, for the sake of the academy, to Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during her graduate exhibition.[17] Several NYAA alumni traveled with Farmer to Epstein's New Mexico ranch on an awkward trip organized by Guggenheim, who was the dean of students in 1995. The students described attending a bizarre, competitive dinner party where they were led to believe that Epstein was planning to grant one of them a major commission, which ultimately never materialized.[18] After Farmer, and her younger sister Annie, were abused by Epstein and Maxwell in 1996, she reported it to Guggenheim, who did not take further action.[19] In May 2020, a petition began circulating that called for Guggenheim's resignation from her position at NYAA as chair of the Board of Trustees due to her earlier involvement with Epstein in the 1990s.[20]

Public events[edit]

Alonsa Guevara in her studio at the Tribeca Ball, 2013

The academy hosts two major public events annually, the Tribeca Ball and the Take Home a Nude auction.[15]

The first Tribeca Ball was held in 1994. The event, held each year at the Franklin Street building, is an important fundraiser for the school and is known to attract high profile attendees.[5][21] Attendees are able to visit over 100 artists' studios and view artwork during a cocktail hour before the main event of dinner in the first floor "cast hall".[5] In 2020, the annual Tribeca Ball, held in Spring, was moved to a virtual experience online due to the COVID-19 outbreak.[22]

Academics and accreditation[edit]

The New York Academy of Art offers a two-year Masters of Fine Arts program, with a total enrollment of approximately 100 students.[11] The academy also offers continuing education classes[23] and a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Art.[3]

The academy was granted an Absolute Charter on June 24, 1994 by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. It is institutionally accredited by the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education acting under their standing as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

In 2013, the academy was accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).[2] The school was accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) in 2016.[3]


New York Academy of Art, Tribeca Gallery in 2014

In total, the Academy houses eight MFA classrooms, multiple exhibition spaces, approximately 100 studio spaces, a library and archives, three student lounges, a woodshop, a kiln, sculpture floor, and printmaking facilities.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d John Connolly (April 8, 1996). "School for Scandal". New York. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kennedy, Randy (2014-05-21). "Art School Creates a New Reality". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  3. ^ a b c "New York Academy of Art". Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  4. ^ a b c d e Dewan, Shaila K.; Eaton, Leslie (2004-04-29). "At TriBeCa Academy, Police See Con Artistry". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  5. ^ a b c d Plummer, Todd (3 April 2018). "At New York's Tribeca Ball, Stilt Walkers Mingle With Celebrities". Vogue. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  6. ^ Selvin, Claire (2018-07-16). "New York Academy of Art to Honor Muses at 'Take Home a Nude' Auction". ARTnews. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  7. ^ a b c d e f McGill, Douglas C. (1986-07-26). "Art School Goes Back to the Human Figure". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  8. ^ "Letters: Art and Reality". New York. May 13, 1996. p. 8. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Pivar, Stuart (2020). School of Warhol. New York: Dalton Press. ISBN 978-1076153548.
  10. ^ Steinberg, Claudia (2004-09-09). "Two Scientists Caught in Amber". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  11. ^ a b c Bernstein, Jacob (2017-04-26). "Downtown Art School that Warhol Started Raises its Celebrity Profile". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  12. ^ a b "Project: New York Academy of Art". Architect. June 3, 2014. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  13. ^ a b "NYAA: How to Transform a Trade School into an Institution". TRA Studio Architecture. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  14. ^ Miller, Linda G. (March 27, 2017). "In the News". AIA New York. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  15. ^ a b Cascone, Sarah (2018-04-06). "How David Kratz Went From Wall Street Dropout to President of the New York Academy of Art". artnet News. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  16. ^ Kiel, Beth Landman; Mitchell, Deborah (December 1, 1997). "Stuart Pivar's new $50 million suit". New York. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Ludel, Wallace (2019-08-27). "New York Academy of Art Promises New Collector Rules in the Wake of Jeffrey Epstein Allegations". Artsy. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  18. ^ Corbett, Rachel (2020-01-27). "It Was a Question of 'How Far Will They Go?': Former Art Students Remember How Jeffrey Epstein Tested Boundaries". Artnet News. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  19. ^ Baker, Mike (2019-08-26). "The Sisters Who First Tried to Take Down Jeffrey Epstein". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  20. ^ Bishara, Hakim (2020-05-07). "Petition Calls for Removal of New York Academy of Art Board Chair, Citing Jeffrey Epstein Ties". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  21. ^ Scher, Robin (2016-04-07). "Dolphins, Walking Oyster Bars, and Performers on Stilts: At the 2016 Tribeca Ball". ARTnews. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  22. ^ "Art In Uncertain Times: New York Academy of Art Transforms Their Tribeca Ball Into Virtual Experiences". Juxtapoz. April 10, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  23. ^ Mantz, Annalise (May 29, 2018). "The best drawing classes in NYC". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2020-05-13.

External links[edit]