Representational painting, drawing and sculpture centering on the human figure have returned to assert their prominence in the mainstream of visual art, and figurative art is once again at the forefront of contemporary cultural discourse. From ancient to recent times, artists have used the human form as a means to express their innermost thoughts and highest ideals. Historically, artists devoted years of training to master the nuances and complexities of the body's representation in art. Today, the New York Academy of Art advances this enduring tradition as the basis for the development of vital contemporary art. The study of the human body and its conceptual and metaphorical aspects are central to the Academy's intensive curriculum, leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree.
Artists, scholars and patrons of the arts, including Andy Warhol, who were interested in fostering the resurgence of figurative and representational art, founded the New York Academy of Art in 1982. The current facility at 111 Franklin Street, in the heart of TriBeCa, was purchased in 1993. In January 2002, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales conferred his Patronage on the New York Academy of Art. This Royal Patronage is the first of its kind bestowed on a visual arts institution in the United States.