Martin Lang: Against Life Drawing – November 2017

src="" alt="" width="298" height="198" srcset=" 300w, 768w, 1024w, 83w" sizes="(max-width: 298px) 100vw, 298px" />Advocating life drawing at art

school is a deeply conservative and reactionary position. Arguments in favour of life drawing usually fall
one of two
(or sometimes

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both). I am utterly unconvinced by both.


all art students learn in the same way. Whatever the student’s learning style,


background (religious sensibilities come
to the fore here) and whatever their artistic aims, their training must be grounded in observation of the nude human figure.

style="font-weight: 400;">Another

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strand to the second argument google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; maintains that life drawing can be taught in an experimental manner

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to produce more cutting-edge artists. Examples include where life drawing concentrates on experiential drawing or experimentation with materials, methods and techniques (there are other examples). But this is no longer life drawing, for to teach these things there is no need for a model. Terming it as such only reinforces the assumption that the underlying tradition of

​ life drawing is something that must be preserved, even when it is irrelevant to

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the google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; tutor’s pedagogic aims and the student’s artistic ambitions.

Life drawing was developed as

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a pedagogical tool google_ad_width = 970; to train Western artists to make figurative painting and sculpture. The reason that it still exists in some art schools is mostly down
to tradition. While life drawing /* xin-1 */ may be useful for some types of artist, it is not applicable to all. I am not saying that

its teaching necessarily prohibits the development of good, exciting and relevant artists. My argument is that it is not necessary and does more to hinder the development of such
artists than it does to encourage them. To teach it is to enforce a hierarchy:
representation over abstraction, traditional forms src="//"> of art over more

and authoritarian position lies a reactionary and conservative politics. Nostalgia and fascism have always walked hand in hand. Think
of Mussolini harking back to the Roman Empire, or Hitler’s love of classical art and

of “taking back control”. We urgently need free thinking artists able to critique contemporary nostalgia, populism and even outright racism and sexism. For that we need a pedagogical approach that is progressive, inclusive, and libertarian. This will allow for more progressive forms of art to develop and //--> emerge – including google_ad_width = 970; non-Western kinds. For these reasons, I am against the teaching of
life drawing.

Martin Lang is a lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Lincoln.