Articulating the Hand in Art
In Chauvet, France, red ochre handprints and stencils are found in chambers throughout the Pont-d'Arc Cave. These are the oldest known representations of the human impulse to make marks, to bring pigment to surface. A common hypothesis: these hands are a form of early signature. And so on through history, with the hand being created into a distinct visual trope again and again. Think of Egyptian hieroglyphs and how they look so distinctly Egyptian. Look at the Assyrian hands on their carved reliefs, and notice how clearly Assyrian. Or even Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael—all are of the same style, yet each produces a distinguishable hand. The hand, for all of its biological constancy of form, is vulnerable to flourishes of expression like few other body parts.
A Space for Dialogue, founded with support from the Class of 1948, is made possible with generous endowments from the Class of 1967, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Jr., Class of 1966, and Pamela J. Joyner, Class of 1979.
Curated by Margaret E. Tierney