The Gendered Image: Deconstructing Life Drawing

By Howard Riley and Amanda Roberts.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 10, 2014 $US5.00

This article argues that viewers of artworks in general, and drawings of the female nude in particular, are positioned in terms of their mood and attitude towards the subject-matter of the artwork specifically by the compositional selections of the maker of the artwork, together with the viewer’s gender orientation. Two opposing ideological positions concerning the representation of the female nude are discussed, those of the traditionalist Kenneth Clark and, against him, a collated body of feminist theory from the 1970s, and their differences charted. The article then proposes that these positions are only two of many available, and demonstrates how a constructivist philosophical base informed by deconstruction theory provides a means of analysis – and synthesis - of drawings which reveals alternative modal positionings of the gendered viewer by means of non-traditional compositional choices. The article is illustrated with drawings by one of the co-authors.

Keywords: Drawing, Gender, Systemic-functional Semiotics, Deconstruction Theory

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.77-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 10, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 459.170KB)).

Prof. Howard Riley

Head of School of Research & Postgraduate Studies, Dynevor Centre for Art, Design and Media, Swansea Metropolitan University of Wales Trinity Saint Davids, Swansea, Wales, UK

Howard Riley is Professor of Visual Communication at the Dynevor Centre for Art, Design & Media, Swansea Metropolitan University of Wales Trinity Saint Davids. He studied at Hammersmith College of Art, Coventry College of Art, and the Royal College of Art. He has taught drawing and the history and theory of art in Australia and Malaysia, as well as the UK. He has published widely in the areas of art pedagogy and visual semiotics, and his drawings have been exhibited in Australia, Finland and the UK.

Amanda Roberts

PhD candidate, Faculty art and design, swansea metropolitan university, swansea, swansea, UK