A Space for Dialogue 81

A Space for Dialogue 81 Cover
January, 2014 Supplementary PDF (543.93 KB)

Hand Alone: Articulating the Hand in Art

Margaret Tierney ’14, Kathryn Conroy Intern

Published by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College

2014, 2 pages


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.

Publication type: A Space for Dialogue Brochures