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The Human Touch

Making Art | Leaving Traces

6 January 2021 to 3 May 2021

Hands at Work

Section 3

Some artists depend on the full range of the hand’s capacities – strength, flexibility, delicacy. The intensive study of its anatomy is fundamental to the representation of proportion, balance and movement.

For some artists, hands are an alternative self-portrait, a statement of intent more telling and more expressive than the face. Portraitists seek to capture the essence of an artist’s work and identity by representing their hands.

Many makers use the hand directly, in the form of fingerprints or an incising nail, or indirectly, using instruments the human hand is uniquely equipped to manipulate – brushes, knives, pens. Others manipulate materials with other forms of touch.

Traces of accidental touch from the making process connect us to the artist’s presence and practice. Marks of deliberate touch bear witness to the collaboration of different hands, to contemporaries working together or to a dialogue between artists past and present.

The photograph of Frank Auerbach’s hand: Katrin Bellinger Collection. © Nicola Bensley
The photograph of Frank Auerbach’s hand: Katrin Bellinger Collection. © Nicola Bensley
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