Jacob Collins is a leading figure in the contemporary revival of classical painting. He earned a BA in history from Columbia College, attended the New York Studio School, the New York Academy of Art, and the Art Students League. As a student, Collins also copied extensively in museums in America and Europe. His work has been widely exhibited in North America and Europe and is included in several American museums. Collins is the founder of the Water Street Atelier, The Grand Central Academy of Art, and the Hudson River Fellowship.


In the fall of 2006, I founded The Grand Central Academy of Art with a group of fellow artists whom I hold in the highest regard. They are all alumni of my first school, The Water Street Atelier, and helped me make it what it has been for more than a decade: a place where serious students can acquire the foundation of a classical education.

I had spent several years since Water Street's inception, however, thinking about how to make a more robust, more perfect classical art school, one that ultimately could not be accommodated in an atelier setting. The Grand Central Academy — with its dedicated and talented teachers, larger physical space and more structured and contemplated curriculum — is my attempt to answer the surging desires of a generation of young artists who want the most rigorous and thorough education in the classical and traditional arts.

The Academy, first and foremost, offers a four-year full-time program, with around fifteen students in each year. The methodology is built on the approaches taught in the ateliers of the 15th through 19th centuries and which we developed successfully at Water Street: cast drawing and grisaille painting, progressing through to figure drawing and ultimately to figure painting. GCA’s core program, however, goes beyond this, with copying paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a thorough study of perspective, anatomy with écorché and dissection, portraiture, painting methods and materials, plein air oil sketch, color theory and composition, and art history for painters — all taught by professional artists. The historical relationship between painting, sculpture and architecture is reflected in the core curriculum, which also introduces architectural drawing and figure sculpture. Each distinct stage in the student’s education was conceived and is controlled by a larger trajectory, the end of which is to give the student the skills and understanding necessary to create classically inspired paintings finely conceived and excellently executed.

We have also recently created a sculpture core program at the GCA. The sculptors and painters start out drawing the casts and figure together. They will also study anatomy and art history together, but the sculptors will lean more towards three-dimensional work, eventually working full time in the sculpture studio.

The Grand Central Academy also offers a varied and comprehensive array of evening and weekend classes as well as workshops, all geared toward the serious student of classical art. The school sponsors lectures and festivals, and the tight-knit group of students frequently organizes book groups and talks, adding another dynamic to this already full and vibrant community. The Academy is an intense community exposing students to the ideas and technical methods of a group of the leading classical artists in New York. Although these artists all have a great deal in common, their differences offer the students some variety of ideas. The GCA’s location in Midtown Manhattan has made it a natural center of the burgeoning renaissance in the classical arts that the United States and the rest of the world are enjoying today.

If you are interested in either the core program or the part-time courses at The Grand Central Academy of Art, please see its website:


The Hudson River Fellowship will build a new movement of American art, modeling itself after the artistic, social and spiritual values of the Hudson River School painters. It will bring together the reawakening enthusiasm for the old American painters, the vigorous but unfocused scene of contemporary landscape painting and the urgent need for a renewed reverence for the land. By bringing back the skills and spirit of the pre-impressionist landscape painters the program will give much needed direction to a new generation of painters. As they learn to carefully study and reflect on the trees and clouds and blades of grass and cliffs, their paintings will become beautiful. Ideally, these artists and their beautiful representations of nature will help to lead the culture back to a stronger connection to the landscape. The school seeks to make a contribution both to the art world and the conservation movement.


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