GIs Anatomy: Drawing Gender, Drawing Sex, Drawing Bodies With London DrawingIntroduction:London Drawing is a collaboration between professional artists, tutors and performers, ledby Anne Noble-Partridge and David Price. We offer life drawing and painting classes andcreative life drawing workshops and events, working with Tate Modern, Tate Britain, TheDesign Museum, Battersea Arts Centre and Heatherleys School of Art. All our workshops arehands on creative sessions, designed to be challenging, fun, informative and to encourageconfidence and inspire. Our Classes aim to be accessible and work on the premise that noskills or drawing experience are needed to make strong and exciting work.Our aims for these workshops:These Four life drawing workshops have been designed to help participants develop practicalskills and awareness of the subject in equal measure. Our aim of these workshops is forparticipants to have produced a piece of art work for exhibition based on these skills andinformation. We understand that there are a range of abilities and experience within the groupwith regard to drawing and making artwork. Therefore these classes address the needs of theindividual to develop drawing and making skills without loosing sight of the objectives; namelyto promote further awareness and encourage enquiry into Transgender Bodies and to aidparticipants create work suitable for exhibition. To this end the class structure and activitiesthere-in will be suitable for those with a range of skill and experience.General outline for the sessions:Each of the 4 classes will have a slightly different focus. Beginning with basic drawing in thefirst week and then developing throughout the remainder of the course to include other skillssuch as collage and other simple art materials. The aim of the classes is to make sure that allthe participants possess the skills they need to make their own work. By the fourth week wehope to know each of the participants well enough to be able to help them individually whenthey make their choices and help them consider what they wish to create for the exhibition.We hope to encourage as much individual development as possible within the time frame.Session 1:General Life Drawing Skills- Looking at different ways to approach drawing from the modelSession 2:Collage and composition- using mixed media to simplify, layer and provide compositional
solutions.Session 3:Concepts- looking at ideas which are personal to you and how to express and develop them.Session 4:Finalising- working with you individually to finish your artworkCollation of images and ideas:Collection of ideas and images will form the the backbone to the workshops. You have an A4sketch book in which you can use as a working scrap book of images and note down ideas, oryou can use digital mediums to collect information- anything that you see in the media, online,advertising, film, books, magazines – you will need to research images and themes which youfind interesting and be aware of what is going on around you to find imagery and informationwhich inspires you or is personal to you. The GI blog will also be crucial to this process as itwill allow you to share ideas and imagery as well as building a bank of information for othersnot involved in the workshop process.Support:The GI blog will be a place to share ideas and get inspiration from each other- we will alsoorganise art surgery times where you can talk to us about how you are getting on with yourproject. At the end of each session we will set a task for you to have achieved by the nextsession, in order for you to begin to make you work personal to you. The surgery times andblog are places where you can ask for assistance with this if you need it, as well as uploadingimages and ideas so you can share with others how you are progressing and give each othersupport.
Life Drawing: An informal potted historyHow is life drawing relevant today?“A figure drawing may be a composed work of art or a figure study done in preparation for amore finished work such as a painting. “This, the first entry on the Wikipedia site for Life Drawing is typical of our understanding of thesubject; namely that Life Drawing is a prelude to a work of art, something to be practiced andmastered by the student so that they can become an artist.This attitude to drawing the body is still a part of current thinking with most people believingthat to draw from the naked body is to practice a fundamental rite of passage trod through thecenturies by artists. Yet visit an art college today, particularly in London and you won’t find agreat deal of life Drawing being practiced. In fact, drawing from the figure as a core part of theprogram has been largely dropped from many of our major art colleges around the countrywith most seeing such study as old fashioned and irrelevant to current artistic practice.We wondered how this came about. How had something so imbedded in collective attitudeand understanding of what artistic practice might be have become so out of touch? How hadart academies and institutions forfeited such a stalwart of their own heritage? And moreimportantly, for us, how can we make figurative work that is relevant today? Is possible to doanything new within the practice? How can we make an intelligent and genuine contribution toour cultural understanding of the body through art today?
Life drawing- how it began and developed as a discipline:The human figure has been the subject of drawings throughout human history. An anecdoterelated by Pliny, a first century Roman author, describes how Zeuxis reviewed the youngwomen of Agrigentum naked before selecting five whose features he would combine in orderto paint an ideal image.The use of nude models in the medieval artist’s workshop is implied in the writings of CenninoCennini (c. 1370 – c. 1440) an Italian painter from Tuscany, influenced by Giotto. He isremembered mainly for having authored Il libro dell’arte, often translated as The Craftsman’sHandbook, the book is a “how to” on Renaissance art, confirms that sketching from life wasan established practice in the 13th century.The Carracci, a powerful and influential family in 16 th century opened their Accademia degliIncamminati in Bologna in the 1580s, and set the pattern for later art schools by making lifedrawing the central discipline. The course of training began with the copying of engravings,then proceeded to drawing from plaster casts, after which the students were trained indrawing from the live model.The École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) is one of a number of influential art schoolsin France. The school has a history spanning more than 350 years, training many of the greatartists in Europe. Beaux Arts style was modeled on classical “antiquities,” preserving theseidealized forms and passing the style on to future generations.The curriculum was divided into the “Academy of Painting and Sculpture” and the “Academyof Architecture”. Both programs focused on classical arts and architecture from Ancient Greekand Roman culture. All students were required to prove their skills with basic drawing tasksbefore advancing to figure drawing and painting. Many of the most famous artists in Europewere trained here, including Géricault, Degas, Delacroix, Fragonard, Ingres, Monet, Moreau,Renoir, Seurat, Cassandre and Sisley. Rodin however, applied on three occasions but wasrefused entry.The Royal Academy Schools was the first institution to provide professional training forartists in Britain. The Schools’ program of formal training was originally modeled upon that ofthe French Académie de peinture et de sculpture, founded by Louis XIV in 1648, and shapedby the precepts laid down by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In his fifteen Discourses delivered topupils in the Schools between 1769 and 1790, Reynolds stressed the importance of copyingthe Old Masters, and of drawing from casts after the Antique and from the life model. Heargued that such a training would form artists capable of creating works of high moral andartistic worth. The School’s impressive alumni includes J. M. W. Turner, Sir John Soane,
William Blake, John Constable, and Sir Edwin Landseer.These schools all shared a belief in the nobility and authority of the past, where copyingdirectly from the casts of ancient Rome and the acquisition of traditional skills wereconsidered the artists finest inheritance. The figures from which they drew or sought to learntheir craft have had a greater impact upon our own cultural understanding of the nude and ofthe human body generally than we might at first assume. It might prove interesting to stepoutside of this history of the Life Room for a moment and review some of the works that havebeen so influential throughout history.
Examples of the figure in art history:DiskobolusThe Diskobolus of Myron is a famous Greek sculpture that was completed circa 460-450 BC.The original Greek bronze is lost, though many contemporary and latter copies have beenunearthed. The version most familiar to the London sightseer is the Townley stone carving atthe British Museum. This variant, excavated at Hadrians Villa in 1790, has been restoredincorrectly, the head facing away from the athlete’s body rather than looking back towards thedisc, leaving this unfortunate sportsman with an extra Adam’s apple. However, we canexamine this ideal body which itself was modeled upon the perfection of Greek statutory.The Greeks typically were intent upon creating divine figures of superman proportions.Caught in the frozen act of hurling the discus he is perfection for a brief moment. His muscles,rather than being taut as we might expect for someone in the act of hurling a metal disc,appear instead quite relaxed. His face too expresses none of the stain of the action, insteadhe seems quite calm. He is the very model of manhood. Myron intends us to examine theperfection of his muscular form without any hint of stain of effort. The athlete is at the height ofhis powers and for a moment appears godlike. His nudity too seems natural. It was customaryto compete naked in Grecian sports, wishing as they did to appear as god’s who are alsorepresented naked and to stress their condition as free from affectation or advantage.The lasting influence of Myron’s’ perfection stretches right into contemporary culture. Many ofthe copies in collections around Europe were brought together under the Third Reich anddelivered into the private hands of one Adolph Hitler, who can been seen posing with thestatue prior to a rally. Such was his admiration for the work that it appears in the openingscenes of the 1936 Leni Riefenstahl film commissioned to introduce the Berlin Olympics ofthat year. As the camera encircles the statue, Myron’s’ figure appears silhouetted againstforeboding skies before appearing to awaken from stillness he becomes a real man ready tocompete and willing to lend his physic to the Nazi cause as the ideal Aryan type.
AntiniousAnother sculpture found in great number in the garden’s at Tivoli was that of the beautifulAntinious, the slave boy who so captured the heart of Hadrian. Though only a boy ofseventeen at the time of his death through accidental drowning the grief of the emperor knewno bounds. The death was presented as an accident, but it was believed at the time thatAntinous had been sacrificed or had sacrificed himself, causing Hadrian to exersise the mostextravagant veneration to be paid to Antinous memory. Cities were founded in his name,medals struck with his likeness, and cities commissioned godlike images of the dead youth fortheir shrines and sanctuaries. Hadrian had Antinous proclaimed a god. Temples were built forhis worship festivals celebrated in his honour and oracles delivered in his name. The city ofAntinopolis or Antinoe was founded on the site of Hir-wer where he died. Hadrians evenattempted to create a constellation of Antinous being lifted to heaven by an eagle, though thisextravagant remembrance failed to be adopted.Worship, of the idealised Antinous was widespread, although mainly outside the city of Rome.As a result, Antinous is one of the best-preserved faces from the ancient world. Many busts,gems and coins represent Antinous as the ideal type of youthful beauty, often with theattributes of some special god. They include a colossal bust in the Vatican, a bust in theLouvre (the Antinous Mondragone), and a bas-relief from the Villa Albani and many more maybe seen in museums across Europe. As a consequence his influence on historic andcontemporary ideas of male beauty are profound. He is particularly regarded as a gay iconand there is even a modern sec which still worships his image. His facial type with broodinggaze and near feminine features have influenced artists throughout the centuries. Could hisface be an early model for representations of a youthful Jesus? How closely his featuresseem to resemble modern icons such as Brando and Presley.
David (Michelangelo)The greatest icon of the male ideal that history has ever known is the David of Florence byMichelangelo. Carved from a single piece of white marble the standing male nude reaches atruly awesome seventeen feet in height. (5.17m) All the more remarkable is that Michelagelowon the contract for the commission at the age of just twenty-six.The stone from which the figure is carved had been roughed out by another artist workingunder the direction of Donattello more than thirty years previously. Following Donatellos’death, the stone remained surpine in the cathedral yard enduring the elements until anotherartist was found to complete the project.It took Michelangelo just two years to complete David. On completion, the statue, weighing sixtonnes was taken from the workshop to the Piazza della Signoria . On June 1504, David wasinstalled next to the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, replacing Donatellos bronze sculptureof Judith and Holofernes, which embodied a comparable theme of heroic resistance.Michelangelos David is a Renaissance interpretation of a common ancient Greek theme ofthe standing heroic male nude. In the High Renaissance, contrapposto poses were thought ofas a distinctive feature of antique sculpture. In David, the figure stands with one leg holding itsfull weight and the other leg relaxed. This classic pose causes the figure’s hips and shouldersto rest at opposite angles, giving a slight s-curve to the entire torso. In addition, the head turnsto the left while the left arm is raised to his left shoulder with his sling flung down behind hisback. Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most recognized works of Renaissancesculpture, becoming a symbol of both strength and youthful human beauty.
David (Donatello)Donatellos bronze statue of David (circa 1440s) is famous as the first unsupported standingwork of bronze cast during the Renaissance, and the first freestanding nude male sculpturemade since antiquity. The “lost wax” process used to create the work was a process thoughtlost since ancient times. As such, later writers such as Vasari assumed that it must have beenmade from life, so life-like it appeared. It depicts David with an enigmatic smile, posed with hisfoot on Goliaths severed head just after defeating the giant. The youth is completely naked,apart from a laurel-topped hat and boots, bearing the sword of Goliath.Though not strange that he is naked for battle, historian and viewers alike have longpondered his hat and boots, unmentioned in the Bible and lending the youth a curiosfemininity and softness. His delicate body and rounded stomach and chest contract with theyouths great sword and seem wholly incongruous with the implied narration of the recentslaying and decapitation of the giant warrior Goliath. So much so that his appearance causedthe American critic and writer Mary McCarthy to call David "a transvestites and fetishistsdream of alluring ambiguity. The intention of Donatello is still debated among scholars. Theboys nakedness might imply the idea of the presence of God, contrasting the youth with theheavily-armored giant. David is presented uncircumcised, which is generally customary formale nudes in Italian Renaissance art.
The Three GracesIf the ancient world took its lead from the Greeks and sort to represent the perfect man then itmight be reasonably argued that as we move toward the modern era we see a shift towardsrepresenting the female body with increasing frequency. The Three Graces are a theme fromantiquity but we see their image re-imagined many times, each age giving new thought to thefemale ideal according to its values.Let us consider three very different examples.The Three Graces- Peter Paul RubensIn this 17th century (1639 version the women appear fleshy and well rounded. A woman todaymight be described as Rubenesque should she be similarly built, such is the collective culturalknowledge of this Dutch masters paintings. The women appear animated and happy, adornedonly in some delicate jewellery they dance in a landscape of rural plenty , re-enforced by thepresence of a stone putti at the fountain bearing a horn, and a swag of blossoms above theirneatly tied hair.The Three Graces - Lucas CranachPainted one hundred years earlier in exquisite detail this tiny Renaissance masterpiece (24x27cm) has something disconcertingly erotic about it. The background has been reduceddown to a simple dark space so as to draw out attention to the women’s elegant silhouettesand fine features. Naked save for their gold and fancy hat these additions of gaudy bling seeat odds with their delicate feminine lines. Also we see that their eyes hold our own gaze,inviting our scrutiny they a powerful and unashamed despite their state of undress.The Three Graces – Antonio CanovaWe might be forgiven for thinking this to be a piece of refined sculpture of Roman ancestry. Infact the work dates from 1817, though its likeness to the works of antiquity was such that LordByron remarked upon it and named it an equal to anything produced in the age. The threegoddesses are shown nude, huddled close together in embrace, their heads almost touchingin what many have referred to as an ‘erotically charged’ piece. They stand, leaning slightlyinward – perhaps discussing a common issue, or simply enjoying being close to one another.Their hair-styles are all similar, with the hair braided and held on top of their heads in a knot.This style of sculpture is now rather unfashionable and might even be called vulgar, suchhave tastes changed. The idealised female form too has gone through a transformation. Wemight imagine Playboy magazine running a reworking of the theme, with gym-fit ladies takingtheir place in such a composition today.
Olympia (Edouard Manet)Edouard Manet was one of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern andpostmodern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition fromRealism to Impressionism.His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur lherbe) and Olympia,engendered great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who wouldcreate Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark thegenesis of modern art.With Olympia, Manet reworked the traditional theme of the female nude, using a strong,uncompromising technique. Both the subject matter and its depiction explain the scandalcaused by this painting at the 1865 Salon. Even though Manet quoted numerous formal andiconographic references, such as Titians Venus of Urbino, Goyas Maja desnuda, and thetheme of the odalisque with her black slave, already handled by Ingres among others, thepicture portrays the cold and prosaic reality of a truly contemporary subject. Venus hasbecome a prostitute, challenging the viewer with her calculating look. This profanation of theidealised nude, the very foundation of academic tradition, provoked a violent reaction. Criticsattacked the "yellow-bellied odalisque" whose modernity was nevertheless defended by asmall group of Manets contemporaries. Never-the –less, so fierce were the attacks when itwas displayed in the Salon, that it was re-hung at a height out of reach of the criticsattempting to pierce the canvas with their sticks.
Pink Nude (Henri Matisse)Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of thethree artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in modern art in theopening decades of the 20th centuryPink Nude was created near the beginning of the relationship between Matisse and his muse,studio assistant and, ultimately, lifetime carer, Lydia Delectorskaya.She models for him here, dominating the canvas with Matisse exaggerating what he called"the essential lines" to create a flat symbol of femininity.Matisses journey towards simplification and abstraction took a leap forward with his PinkNude (1935). Intricate patterns and naturalistic figures are discarded in favour of plain formsand stylised surfaces. Matisse led the way towards total abstraction of the form and here thebody become subservient to the flat design of the whole composition. The woman cannot besaid to be idealised. In fact the painting isn’t really about her at all. It is the painting which isthe subject. Her body has become a motif, and object neither beautiful nor ugly, moral norimmoral, sexual nor ascetic.Next week we will be looking at life drawing and representation of the figure in themodern era up to present day.