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Early Academic Drawings from the Permanent Collection of The Art Students League of New York
Library, April 26, 2012 - May 13, 2012
Drawings of nudes were the building blocks of an artist’s education at one time. Male and female models stood for 20-minute poses as students sought to capture light on flesh, muscle beneath skin and the proportions of human form. These skills were essential for careers in fine art painting, mural design and literary illustration. In pursuit of such abilities, aspiring artists produced dozens of charcoal “life drawings.”
While life drawing is no longer an inevitable aspect of art school curricula, the Art Students League of New York has offered it as a course of study since its founding in 1875. The works in this exhibition of early life drawings from the League’s permanent collection were restored from hundreds in the League’s collection on the basis of their excellence and historic significance.
The drawings on display date from 1888 to 1924 and came into the collection in exchange for scholarships and awards given to their creators. In this manner the League formed a permanent collection to record its accomplishments and furnish its students with fine work to emulate. Students fortunate enough to study in Europe were asked to send back life drawings that had merited approval by French or German instructors.