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What happens to life drawing after death? This panel brings together three perspectives on historical and contemporary practices of drawing the human body as cadaver to consider the ethics and experience of life drawing at its existential limits.

Moderator:
Isabel Bird, PhD candidate, Harvard University

Panelists: 
Linda Carreiro, Professor of Visual Arts, Faculty of Humanities, Brock University, “Performing Memory: Drawing and Dissection”

V Yeh, Yale School of Art MFA ‘24, “Death Drawing”

Alejandro Nodarse, PhD Candidate, Harvard University, and MFA Candidate, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, “When the body is not a ship; or, towards an historical ethics of life drawing”

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Speaker Bios and Abstracts:

“Performing Memory: Drawing and Dissection”
Linda Carreiro, Professor of Visual Arts, Faculty of Humanities, Brock University

Abstract:
The anatomy lab compels an unusual and complicated relationship between model and artist. Even though I draw from individuals who have consented post-mortem access to their bodies, the sense that I am violating my subject lingers. One never quite “relaxes” while drawing in the lab, with the deepened awareness of one’s own body at work made more intense by the revealed interior before you. Unlike the art studio established as a formal setting to accommodate live models, the provisions required to draw in a setting customary for medical research highlight the activity as one of heightened experience and sensation. Preparing to draw from cadavers requires an additional and varying set of psychological and physical preparations. Using makeshift drawing board, precut paper, and pencils sharpened to a needle-like point, the formality of preparing the materials becomes a form of observance. It is the ritual of setting up in the lab, the repeated, memorized actions from previous drawing sessions translated to the intensified environment that most acutely demonstrates drawing as a performance, even if conducted without viewers. While drawing from cadavers is viewed in contemporary art practice as a throw-back to les academies­, I argue this practice offers a means of knowing and “sensing” both the human form and the human experience on a deep level. My presentation will introduce some of the complexities of opening, examining and recording the body’s interior, with a means to propose larger ideas about performing memory through drawing.

Biography:
For nearly three decades, Linda Carreiro has been pursuing creative and critical inquiries on text-based visual artwork, making interconnections between the root word of text (texere)—meaning tissue or texture—with the tissues of the body. Anatomical studies, both her own work conducted within a dissection lab as well as historical representations of the anatomized body, underscore her research interests, resulting in solo and group exhibitions internationally, invitational speaking engagements, and written contributions in publications. She is currently a professor of Visual Arts at Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada.

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“Death Drawing”
V Yeh, Yale School of Art MFA ‘24

Abstract:
How does one define life or death, particularly in the studio? For my large scale painting “Induction (Nothing heard, nothing said / We’re hand in hand, chest to chest, and now we’re face to face / You got me tossing and turning, can’t sleep at night),” I entered Yale’s anatomy lab to observe and study not only the cadavers being dissected, but also the students who engaged with them in the mundanity of a classroom context. I present the works on paper and thought process that informed the final painting, and contextualize the work both within art history’s relation to medicine, as well as historical medical and scientific pedagogy, especially the origins of cadaver dissection in Early Modern Europe and the religious tensions surrounding the practice. I consider what it means to draw/paint the living alongside the dead, what it means to “capture” the likeness of someone, and in so doing bring them to a fixed stillness not unlike death, and the ethical dilemmas and racialized dynamics of consent and commodification both within medicine and life(/death) drawing. The work is deeply informed by my pre-medical educational background and current practice as a conceptual artist who insists on working with figuration as institutional critique.

Biography:
V Yeh is an artist whose practice/praxis is in dialogue with science, medicine, and the visual and performance arts. His multimodal work grapples with normativity, artificial delineations—both scientific and cultural—and the material reality of specific bodyminds. Yeh was awarded the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts and Eugene Leake Award upon graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2019 with a BA in Medicine, Science, and the Humanities, and has recently graduated with an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art.

_

“When the body is not a ship; or, towards an historical ethics of life drawing”
Alejandro Nodarse, PhD Candidate, Harvard University, and MFA Candidate, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

 Abstract:
In On Painting (De Pictura), Leon Battista Alberti instructed a preliminary method to depict the anatomized body: “Isolate each bone of the animal, on this add its muscles, then clothe all of it with its flesh.” To “isolate” was to view the body in parts, to conceive it architectonically; or, as Alberti later suggested in On Sculpture (De Statua), as “a ship” whose elements must be fit together. The Albertian tenet proved an enduring influence on academic modes of drawing, in which the body could be effectively (dis)assembled and (re)drawn. Yet the isolation of the body—its status as ship—had its limits. Artists, like Alessandro Allori and Annibale Carracci, began to question the human body’s divisibility and to consider the affective dimensions of its depiction: given the “melancholy,” in Allori’s words, that confronting a dissected corpse would cause the young artist. In this presentation, I consider the unstable boundary between drawing from life and drawing from death—or rather, from the corpse—within the foundational art academies of late-sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy. Set between preparatory observations and final works, figure studies were well placed to pictorialize the contingencies of a body that was, through claims to feeling, no longer (just) a ship. Such drawings, then, may serve not only as indices of academic development or artistic reflection, but as images through which questions of ethics could begin to surface.

Biography:
Alejandro (Ale) Nodarse is an artist and art historian. They are a Ph.D. Candidate in History of Art & Architecture at Harvard University and an MFA Candidate at the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art. Their dissertation, “Operations of the Image,” considers the intersection of painterly and medical practices in seventeenth-century Rome and Naples and its bearing on the formation of modern aesthetics. They think often about art — its history and its practice — in relationship to observation, memory, language, and ethics.
_

Moderator Bio:

Isabel Bird is a PhD Candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, with a secondary field in Art, Film, and Visual Studies. She is currently completing a dissertation on the relationship between drawing and learning in the twentieth century, with a focus on the work of Ruth Asawa, Adrian Piper, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Sturtevant. She has an active daily drawing practice of her own and attends weekly figure drawing sessions at Life Drawing Boston.

_

Symposium description:

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.

Please join us for two virtual panels that delve into the ethics and limits of life drawing: Life Drawing After Death and Life Model as Laborer and Artist. These panels initiate a discussion that will continue at an in-person symposium on Thursday, June 20 at The Courtauld Institute, Pose, Power, Practice: New Perspectives on Life Drawing.

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

 

 

Image: V Yeh, Induction Study. Courtesy of V Yeh.

Events, Upcoming
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Life Drawing After Death – Virtual Panel

What happens to life drawing after death? This panel brings together three perspectives on historical and contemporary practices of drawing the human body as cadaver to consider the ethics and experience of life drawing at its existential limits.

Moderator:
Isabel Bird, PhD candidate, Harvard University

Panelists: 
Linda Carreiro, Professor of Visual Arts, Faculty of Humanities, Brock University, “Performing Memory: Drawing and Dissection”

V Yeh, Yale School of Art MFA ‘24, “Death Drawing”

Alejandro Nodarse, PhD Candidate, Harvard University, and MFA Candidate, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, “When the body is not a ship; or, towards an historical ethics of life drawing”

__

Speaker Bios and Abstracts:

“Performing Memory: Drawing and Dissection”
Linda Carreiro, Professor of Visual Arts, Faculty of Humanities, Brock University

Abstract:
The anatomy lab compels an unusual and complicated relationship between model and artist. Even though I draw from individuals who have consented post-mortem access to their bodies, the sense that I am violating my subject lingers. One never quite “relaxes” while drawing in the lab, with the deepened awareness of one’s own body at work made more intense by the revealed interior before you. Unlike the art studio established as a formal setting to accommodate live models, the provisions required to draw in a setting customary for medical research highlight the activity as one of heightened experience and sensation. Preparing to draw from cadavers requires an additional and varying set of psychological and physical preparations. Using makeshift drawing board, precut paper, and pencils sharpened to a needle-like point, the formality of preparing the materials becomes a form of observance. It is the ritual of setting up in the lab, the repeated, memorized actions from previous drawing sessions translated to the intensified environment that most acutely demonstrates drawing as a performance, even if conducted without viewers. While drawing from cadavers is viewed in contemporary art practice as a throw-back to les academies­, I argue this practice offers a means of knowing and “sensing” both the human form and the human experience on a deep level. My presentation will introduce some of the complexities of opening, examining and recording the body’s interior, with a means to propose larger ideas about performing memory through drawing.

Biography:
For nearly three decades, Linda Carreiro has been pursuing creative and critical inquiries on text-based visual artwork, making interconnections between the root word of text (texere)—meaning tissue or texture—with the tissues of the body. Anatomical studies, both her own work conducted within a dissection lab as well as historical representations of the anatomized body, underscore her research interests, resulting in solo and group exhibitions internationally, invitational speaking engagements, and written contributions in publications. She is currently a professor of Visual Arts at Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada.

_

“Death Drawing”
V Yeh, Yale School of Art MFA ‘24

Abstract:
How does one define life or death, particularly in the studio? For my large scale painting “Induction (Nothing heard, nothing said / We’re hand in hand, chest to chest, and now we’re face to face / You got me tossing and turning, can’t sleep at night),” I entered Yale’s anatomy lab to observe and study not only the cadavers being dissected, but also the students who engaged with them in the mundanity of a classroom context. I present the works on paper and thought process that informed the final painting, and contextualize the work both within art history’s relation to medicine, as well as historical medical and scientific pedagogy, especially the origins of cadaver dissection in Early Modern Europe and the religious tensions surrounding the practice. I consider what it means to draw/paint the living alongside the dead, what it means to “capture” the likeness of someone, and in so doing bring them to a fixed stillness not unlike death, and the ethical dilemmas and racialized dynamics of consent and commodification both within medicine and life(/death) drawing. The work is deeply informed by my pre-medical educational background and current practice as a conceptual artist who insists on working with figuration as institutional critique.

Biography:
V Yeh is an artist whose practice/praxis is in dialogue with science, medicine, and the visual and performance arts. His multimodal work grapples with normativity, artificial delineations—both scientific and cultural—and the material reality of specific bodyminds. Yeh was awarded the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts and Eugene Leake Award upon graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2019 with a BA in Medicine, Science, and the Humanities, and has recently graduated with an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art.

_

“When the body is not a ship; or, towards an historical ethics of life drawing”
Alejandro Nodarse, PhD Candidate, Harvard University, and MFA Candidate, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

 Abstract:
In On Painting (De Pictura), Leon Battista Alberti instructed a preliminary method to depict the anatomized body: “Isolate each bone of the animal, on this add its muscles, then clothe all of it with its flesh.” To “isolate” was to view the body in parts, to conceive it architectonically; or, as Alberti later suggested in On Sculpture (De Statua), as “a ship” whose elements must be fit together. The Albertian tenet proved an enduring influence on academic modes of drawing, in which the body could be effectively (dis)assembled and (re)drawn. Yet the isolation of the body—its status as ship—had its limits. Artists, like Alessandro Allori and Annibale Carracci, began to question the human body’s divisibility and to consider the affective dimensions of its depiction: given the “melancholy,” in Allori’s words, that confronting a dissected corpse would cause the young artist. In this presentation, I consider the unstable boundary between drawing from life and drawing from death—or rather, from the corpse—within the foundational art academies of late-sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy. Set between preparatory observations and final works, figure studies were well placed to pictorialize the contingencies of a body that was, through claims to feeling, no longer (just) a ship. Such drawings, then, may serve not only as indices of academic development or artistic reflection, but as images through which questions of ethics could begin to surface.

Biography:
Alejandro (Ale) Nodarse is an artist and art historian. They are a Ph.D. Candidate in History of Art & Architecture at Harvard University and an MFA Candidate at the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art. Their dissertation, “Operations of the Image,” considers the intersection of painterly and medical practices in seventeenth-century Rome and Naples and its bearing on the formation of modern aesthetics. They think often about art — its history and its practice — in relationship to observation, memory, language, and ethics.
_

Moderator Bio:

Isabel Bird is a PhD Candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, with a secondary field in Art, Film, and Visual Studies. She is currently completing a dissertation on the relationship between drawing and learning in the twentieth century, with a focus on the work of Ruth Asawa, Adrian Piper, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Sturtevant. She has an active daily drawing practice of her own and attends weekly figure drawing sessions at Life Drawing Boston.

_

Symposium description:

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.

Please join us for two virtual panels that delve into the ethics and limits of life drawing: Life Drawing After Death and Life Model as Laborer and Artist. These panels initiate a discussion that will continue at an in-person symposium on Thursday, June 20 at The Courtauld Institute, Pose, Power, Practice: New Perspectives on Life Drawing.

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

 

 

Image: V Yeh, Induction Study. Courtesy of V Yeh.

Date
June 17, 2024 11:00 am
Venue

More Events

Events, Upcoming
Life Model as Laborer and Artist – Virtual Panel
June 18, 2024 8:00 am
Events, Upcoming
Life Drawing After Death – Virtual Panel
June 17, 2024 11:00 am
Events, Upcoming
Pose, Power, Practice: New Perspectives on Life Drawing
June 20, 2024 9:00 am
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April 7, 2024 10:00 am

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