Pose, Power, Practice: New Perspectives on Life Drawing, Courtauld Institute of Art

  • Region: All Regions
  • Type: Conference
  • Cost: Free

Thursday 20 June 2024

The Courtauld Institute, Vernon Square, London


Registration details and full conference programme available at:

From the sixteenth century to the present, drawing the human body from life has remained a mainstay of Western institutional art practice. Despite significant shifts in the aesthetics, media, and purpose of art over the last five hundred years, life drawing endures in both the studio and the classroom.

Pose, Power, Practice is a one-day symposium that seeks to reassess the state of the field on life drawing and apply new critical frameworks to this sustained practice. It aims to better understand life drawing in all its complexity, from its presumed advantages to its consequences. This is a practice deeply intertwined with concerns central to the discipline of art history, including but not limited to: the power dynamics of the gaze; the politics of representation; recognition of multiple forms of artistic labour; formulations of race, dis/ability, gender, and sexuality; and critiques of institutions. How has life drawing changed across time and place? How and why has it endured as a pedagogical practice, despite repeated dismissals of its “academicism”? What uses does it hold today, for artists and art historians alike?

Our re-evaluation of life drawing will start with two virtual panels earlier in the week, hosted in collaboration with The Drawing Foundation. At ‘Life Drawing After Death’ on Monday 17 June, 16:00 BST and ‘Life Model as Laborer and Artist’ on Tuesday 18 June, 13:00 BST, we will dive into topics that will resonate with and inform our in-person discussions on the varied perspectives, ethical considerations, and diverse practices that make up life drawing. Visit The Drawing Foundation’s event webpage for further details.

Organised by Dr Zoë Dostal (Kress Fellow, The Courtauld) and Isabel Bird (PhD candidate, Harvard University).

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