New lease of life for life drawing classes?
Decades after life drawing classes were systematically dropped from the curriculum for British art colleges, ending a 200-year tradition of rigorous learning from prints, casts, and life models, the practice is being “gradually reinvigorated” and reintroduced in some teaching institutions.
The Arts University of Bournemouth is to offer a BA (Hons) Drawing from September 2018, promising prospective students that “drawing is at the very heart of contemporary creative thinking”, a development cited by those who see a minor renaissance in drawing and life drawing. The course specification adds that “drawing can be handmade, manufactured or digital.”
Bournemouth joins Falmouth University of the Arts, which introduced its Drawing BA in 2011, and the University of West England, with a BA in Drawing and Print. (Camberwell College of Arts has a BA, while Wimbledon College of Arts, also part of the University of Arts London, offers an MA.)
The Royal Academy (RA) exhibition From Life (until 11 March), exploring what making art from life has meant to artists throughout history, opened this week. It features the first free-standing sculpture in metal made using the Virtual Reality painting tool Google Tilt Brush, by the portrait artist Jonathan Yeo.
Despite his engagement with digital art, Yeo is among those who see a revival in life drawing. Where in the early 1990s it was said that painting was dead, let alone drawing, the “cycle has moved on”, the artist says, suggesting the surge in camera phone photography has helped, driving a new awareness of composition, lighting, and narrative pictures.