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Art Students League


The Art Students League of New York is an artist-founded institution that arose in the post-Civil War years in New York City, when many art students became dissatisfied with the lack of quality instruction in the basics of portraiture, sculpture and composition offered by New York art schools. During the Depression years, many young artists who would eventually define the Abstract Expressionist movement spent their formative years studying and even teaching at the League. The Art Students League continues to operate today in the same manner it always has: as a set of independent studios, run by individual instructors who have complete autonomy and creative control in the classroom, without any interference from higher administration.

Founding Principles

In a flier dated July 1875, the League's founding students declared as part of its mission: "To meet the want thus occasioned, the League will form and sustain classes for study from the nude and draped model, of composition, perspective, etc."
The League publishes a quarterly journal called LINEA, which references the school's motto: "Nulla Dies Sine Linea," supposedly spoken by the Greek painter Apelles, which translates to "No Day Without a Line." The motto emphasizes the importance of students practicing their craft daily, even if this means drawing a single line.
The Art Students League has never championed any single philosophy or pedagogy in the practice of art instruction; the school has hired successful artist-instructors based on their body of work, and has allowed them to apply their own individual perspectives in the classroom.


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