Entries in hand (5)


Hands of Gemini 15: Irving Penn

Photographer Irving Penn (June 16, 1917)

Two women with tarot cards and hand-reading chart.

One of them was his wife, model Lisa Fonssagrives.


Hands of Gemini 14: The Case of Aby Warburg

The great bibliomane and iconologist Aby Warburg was born on June 13, 1866, under Gemini, sign of the Twins. Scion of a wealthy family of German Jewish bankers, he ‘famously made a deal with his brother Max to forfeit his right, as the eldest son, to take over the family firm, in return for an undertaking on Max’s part to provide him with all the books he ever needed’. His brother Max was precisely one year younger, also born on June 13, thus also a Gemini, as if a twin displaced by one yearly cycle. Warburg’s great accomplishment, the creation of the Warburg Institute (now threatened) was achieved in spite of psychological disabilities including an often incapacitating dread of astrological coincidences, which he believed pursued him as he himself pursued the scholarly study of the persistent life of classical imagery. To this day the staff of the Warburg repels approaches from practicing astrologers. Perhaps the Institute would be in better shape if it participated in the reality of ancient imagery rather than sequestering it in musty antiquarianism. The campaign to save the Warburg Institute has adopted as its emblem one of the most popular images in the collection, a hand apparently engulfed in dire circumstances, waving for help, bearing the letter W in its sinews. In the classic melathesia of Zodiac to parts of the body, the Hands are of course the Twin’s. More Geminian Hands are here:


Hands of Gemini 6: Garcia Lorca

Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca (b. June 5, 1898), also an artist, drew this pair of severed hands, which chillingly prefigure his severed life: he was murdered by the Spanish fascists in 1936. Poets take note of the shout-outs among Geminis Whitman, Pessoa, Lorca and Ginsberg!

Incidentally, as a youngster, didn't Lorca look like Gemini Johnny Depp? I know "Separated at Birth" is an easy game, but when they're of the same sign I can't resist.


Hands of Gemini 5: Egon Schiele

"For a well modelled thigh, you would recommend Michelangelo. For a radiant face, Rembrandt. But to whom would you turn for a supremely expressive hand? Egon Schiele, (b. 12 June 1890) the Austrian Expressionist who died at the age of 28 in the great flu pandemic of 1918, was a master of hands, and there is an enormous range of them throughout his work. There are long, thin, ivory-spindle-like hands which slide up the cheek; there are hands which drag at the flesh beneath the eye, making it bulge weirdly. There are hands which seem to snake around and almost to engulf the body, making it seem knotted and strangely tortured." (ref)

Anent Gemini's sibling associations: Schiele lived in a scandalous menage a trois with his wife and her sister, and he is believed to have had an incestuous relationship with his own sister.


Hands of Gemini 1



The hand is Gemini’s organ, which, it goes without saying, comes in pairs.  Photography in its iterative, duplicative essence belongs to Gemini, and the hand is a perennial photographic subject.  Gemini Irving Penn, the quintessential commercial photographer, was commissioned to shoot the elusive Gemini jazzman Miles Davis. Several remarkable hand studies resulted, where the hand is allowed to take over from the face the task of representing identity. Above, a pair of jagged hand portraits, sharp as portrait glossies, signaling difference digitally.

Here, the face is a mask, and the hands share the portrait.





The photograph chosen for the actual album has been appropriated on FLICKr. The absent hand is restored.

The punning album cover of Gemini conductor George Szell’s “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” repeats Gemini themes.

Gemini photographer Weegee took this one.

Another Irving Penn photo. Penn also shows the Gemini trait of having a notable sibling connection. His brother  Arthur Penn also makes pictures.

See also: Hands of Escher and Raymond Pettibon

and here for Hands of Johnny Depp and Vincent Price